A Force For Good

YouthBorders commissioned A Force For Good: Amplifying the third sector youth work workforce’s contribution to economic growth and social change in the Scottish Borders in 2021 to help us better understand the needs and challenges facing third sector youth work organisations in the Scottish Borders relating to workforce development and the principles of Fair Work.

A Force for Good was conducted by The Lines Between using organisational surveys, practitioner surveys, and in-depth interviews with YouthBorders members, alongside stakeholder focus groups engaging our local and national partners and through a policy and literature review.

This research focuses on the workforce and sectoral development needs of the Third Sector Youth Work workforce – paid practitioners and volunteers working within not-for-profit community or voluntary-based groups and organisations in the Scottish Borders, many of whom are registered charities.

YouthBorders estimates this workforce to include at least 200 paid staff and 600 volunteers over more than 44 organisations. 

The research found:

The primary workforce research findings include:

26% of the workforce perceived their jobs to be insecure.

30% of the workforce are under 35 years old.

71% of the workforce are female.

42% of the workforce are on temporary or fixed term contracts of employment.

42% of Managers lacked confidence in their organisations ability to recruit youth work staff with the appropriate skills and experiences.

Hourly rates of pay are variable within the sector - the average hourly rate of a youth worker is £10.95. This is below the average hourly rate in the Scottish Borders (£12.14) and Scotland (£14.05) leading to risks of in-work poverty.

41% of the workforce didn’t know about opportunities for training and qualifications; and 15% said that career progression pathways are unclear.

Youth Work organisation cite barriers to workforce development (training and qualifications) are time capacity (84%); Lack of budget (68%); Available or Suitable Courses (63%).

The average number of employees in the TSYW Sector is 6. The majority of whom are part time or sessional staff.

33% of the paid workforce are paid hourly rather than salaried positions.

26% of the workforce were unsure how long they intend to remain in the youth work sector.

50% of the workforce had less than 5 years’ experience in the sector.

A call to collaborate

YouthBorders invite our partners and stakeholders to engage in this research and discussion and to seize the opportunity to add value to young people’s lives by doing things differently with the Third Sector Youth Work Sector through incremental changes which will align our sector’s potential with the needs of young people and communities through improved connection, collaboration, and resourcing.  

A Force for Good also gives us the mandate to work alongside our members, stakeholders and young people to create sectoral change in a manner which supports sustainability, Fair Work, community wealth building and inclusive growth in the Scottish Borders.

To find out more about research or to discuss how you can engage in our collaboration please contact us.

A Force for Good was funded by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), the economic and community development agency for the region.

Research Reports:

A Force for Good: Annex A

Third sector youth work in the Scottish Borders – The Policy Landscape

A Force for Good: Annex B

Understanding the third sector youth work workforce in the Scottish Borders: Research Findings

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