There needs to be a consistent understanding of the level of service, and suitable data should be available to answer the question of whether there is sufficient youth work in any particular area. For example, we do not know the sector’s balance between private, public and voluntary sectors. It is important to explore the changes that have happened over the last decade and examine exactly what we have in place now before we decide whether that is good enough. The reinstatement of the NYA audit, which determined levels of local authority provision, would help us to start to understand the picture at a national level. The last of these reported back in 2008, and things have clearly changed in our provision and youth work since then.
We have witnessed a reduction from 75% to just 25% of the youth workforce holding qualifications in youth work, and we have seen a nearly two-thirds drop in the number of new youth work graduate and postgraduate students since the peak. We are now in a position where there are not enough professionals in the sector, and we need to tackle this issue. With preventive services, as with anything we are trying to reinvigorate—for instance, the recruitment of teachers or doctors—the time involved in training people and putting in place qualifications to get people into the sector can be too long. We need to be looking now at how we support those qualifications, to ensure that if the Government do go ahead with plans for something, such as having youth workers more closely related to schools and tying those things together, we have youth workers trained and ready to deliver that. Pushing for those qualifications, and for the funding needed for their renewal, is absolutely vital.
I do not want to bang on for much longer—