Researching the maintained Youth Services in Wales : is it drawn in different directions?
The study was carried out at a time when the maintained Youth Service in Wales had become drawn into a political agenda created by the election of New Labour in 1997 and the subsequent setting up of the National Assembly for Wales in 1999. As a consequence of the particular circumstances caused by these two events there was an imperative for the maintained Youth Service to make a rapid transition from its historically marginalised position to one more central within the new young-people agenda. The investigation is concerned to determine if the maintained Youth Service is able to attain this new position and make it secure in the long-term through a strategic approach that promotes an agreed philosophical position and maximises the opportunities presented to it by increased political attention and new resources. The study found that the maintained Youth Service was generally unable to manage effectively the rapid increase in its staff numbers in a way that ensured the embedding of a collectively understood organisational approach that could be described as discrete. This was because the organisation was both philosophically unsound, because of the lack of a collectively shared understanding of purposes, principles and values, and structurally unsound because of inappropriate levels of resources and the organisation of its staff. Consequently, the maintained Youth Service in Wales remains marginalised because it has been unable to locate its discrete method of practice within the new structures being developed for the delivery of services to young people. The investigation concludes that a contemporary maintained Youth Service needs to collectively develop persuasive arguments that ensure greater government attention and resources on non-formal community based learning for those between the ages of 11 to 25, delivered in a way that ensures their voluntary attendance. This may only be possible if some key aspects of maintained Youth Service management and delivery are moved away from its current local authority location.
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