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CWDC - New report reveals estimated six million workers supporting the country's young people

The country's young people are being supported through the complex challenges of their teens by an estimated workforce of about six million paid staff and volunteers, a new report reveals.1 This equates to nearly one in seven adults - or twice the population of Wales.2

The report, A picture worth millions, is the first to shed light on those who work with young people3 to support their personal and social development, helping them to reach their full potential and negotiate their transition to adulthood.

Commissioned by the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC), it finds these millions of people work in more than 55 different occupations in 12 separate sectors, representing public sector, private sector, charity, community and faith organisations. Positions range from arts and dance workers in the cultural sector to education welfare officers, youth workers and learning mentors in the education sector to coaches and match officials in the sports and recreation sector.

Dedicated volunteers are playing a central role, with more than 5.25 million people (87 per cent of the workforce) giving up their time for free to help the nation's young. One in four sports and recreation groups is run purely on a voluntary basis, with workers giving up their weekends and evenings.

The largest part of the workforce is to be found on the playing field and in the sports centre, with 3.7 million people in the sports and recreation sector, followed by outdoor pursuits (1.18 million) and youth work (600,000).

People from all backgrounds are helping to support and nurture the nation's young people.4 There is a broad age range, with two thirds of sports and recreation volunteers (67 per cent) under 35 - and 35 per cent aged 16-24 - while three quarters of youth and community officers (73 per cent) are aged 44 or older.

The findings come as a major programme is underway to further develop the skills and expertise of this workforce and help the many different roles work together more effectively. This includes additional training to develop current and future leaders and managers and programmes for volunteers and third sector organisations, who often lack the funding for training. In addition, a common platform of skills and competencies is being developed, to provide consistency in the skills and behaviours needed by practitioners to support young people on a range of pathways to success.

Deirdre Quill, Director of Integrated Workforce at CWDC, said:This research is groundbreaking. It reveals the incredible amount of care, dedication and hard work invested across the country in supporting our young people's development. Young people's lives are more complex than ever, so it is pleasing to see so many people devoted to helping them through what can be a time of great challenges and opportunity. 

The evidence in this report will help us develop the workforce further and ensure all workers supporting young people, whatever their specialism, work better together.

CWDC, together with its partners, is introducing a series of major reforms that will make the workforce more integrated and more skilled and support the invaluable contribution made by the third sector. Through initiatives such as the Young People's Workforce Reform Programme we can help the workforce reach its full potential - and thereby support even more young people reach theirs.

Children and Young People's Minister, Dawn Primarolo said: I, along with millions of young people across the country, am extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of the young people's workforce. The tireless work of over six million people, all working together to help young people flourish, is having a huge impact on the lives of young people in this country.

It is important that we ensure these workers have the support they need to continue and improve this invaluable work. The training and reforms driven by CWDC will help us achieve our ambition to make this the best country in the world for young people to grow up in.

For further information please contact:

Michael Sheen, Band & Brown Communications: 020 7419 8631 michael@bbpr.com 

Colleen Brayshaw, Band & Brown Communications: 020 7419 6934 colleen@bbpr.com 

Leigh Dowd, CWDC press office: 0113 390 7658 leigh.dowd@cwdcouncil.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

About the research

A picture worth millions: The state of the young people's workforce was developed by LMW Research Ltd. It is the first report of a three year project, commissioned by CWDC on behalf of the Young Peoples Workforce Reform Programme Board (see below) to establish the most up to date picture of the young people's workforce in England to inform effective workforce planning. Further reports will be produced to record developments over the 2008-10 period. The report is available to view online.

Data sources, methodology and reliability

The research focused on the scoping of the workforce and gathering relevant data, both quantitative and qualitative, by desk research and literature review. It used existing data sources rather than gathering new data. A wide range of sources were used, taking in more than 65 separate studies, making this the most robust and wide-ranging report into the workforce to date. By gathering and reporting information

in this way, the research has provided new insights into the young people's workforce. However, it did also illustrate the challenges around counting this workforce and the need for more consistent and  accurate data. The figures should therefore only be used as a working baseline for future development, rather than as definitive information.

1. The sectors, occupations and estimated number of staff engaged in the young people's workforce are:



Paid staff


Creative and cultural

Various arts, dance music and cultural heritage workers

Not available

Not available

Education and schools

Connexions, education welfare, learning mentors, extended schools, family support advisors, school library staff


Not available


Various medical, nursing and professions, allied health professions, CAMHS workers and many other roles


Not available


Housing advice workers particularly those working with 16-17 yr olds

Not available

Not available


Activity leader, instructor, assistant instructor, tutor, trainer, programme leader, expedition leader, head of centre




Playworker, assistant playworker, playwork manager, senior/advanced practitioner, play ranger, play development worker



Scouts/Girl guides

Girl guides: adult volunteers (unit leaders, unit helpers)

Scouts: commissioners, scouters, skills instructors and advisers, section leaders, sectional assistants

Not available


Social care

Community workers, leaving care workers


Not available

Sport and recreation

Coaches, officials, sport development officers, group or activity leaders, spectator control, recreation assistants, leisure attendants, lifeguards, studio/duty managers



Substance misuse

Substance use workers, drug and alcohol workers, social workers


Not available

Youth work

Youth workers, youth support workers;  information, advice and guidance workers



Youth justice

Youth offending teams (not incl. in total as possibly included under youth work)



Youth offending institutions


Not available


Total (above)



2. There are 40 million adults in England (ONS). The population of Wales is 2,993,000 (Welsh Assembly).

3. The young people's workforce as covered by the research consists of workers, voluntary and paid, in the statutory, private and the third sector, including leaders and managers, who work with young people aged 13 - 19 and up to 25 for young people with learning difficulties or disability. It includes Youth Workers, Connexions Personal Advisers, school- and college-based Learning Mentors, Educational Welfare Officers and Attendance Workers, Youth Justice and various youth support workers. The following workers are however excluded: staff in schools, further education settings, work-based and adult and community learning settings who are directly delivering or directly assisting the delivery of formal compulsory education or post-16 education or training  and social workers and social care workers (as their training should equip them to deal with young people).

4. Across the workforce the main Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups were Asian/Asian British (0.9% to 7.5%) and black/black British (1.4% to 10.7%). The numbers of white staff range between 77% and 95% of the workforce. The range in percentages is due to the way in which data were collected and the ethnicity of around 8-9% of staff being returned as "not stated" in most groups. Therefore comparisons between the proportions of the workforce in different ethnic groups with the general population need to be looked at with some caution due to the incidence of 'not stated'.

About CWDC

The Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) leads change so that the thousands of people and volunteers working with children and young people across England are able to do the best job they possibly can.

We want England's children and young people's workforce to be respected by peers and professionals and valued for the positive difference it makes to children, young people and their families.

We advise and work in partnership with lots of different organisations and people who want the lives of all children and young people to be healthy, happy and fulfilling. For more information visit: www.cwdcouncil.org.uk

About the Young People's Workforce Reform Programme

CWDC, in partnership with national young people's workforce organisations, including the voluntary sector, has been asked to deliver a programme to enhance and develop the young people's workforce as a part of the government's ten-year Aiming High strategy. The programme's aim is that everyone who works with young people can offer their expertise from a set of agreed and shared skills. It is an ambitious series of reforms that will:

  • Provide support to strengthen leadership and management across the young people's workforce
  • Further improve the skills of the Third Sector young people's workforce through a capacity building programme
  • Develop a common platform of skills and competences, including a workforce-wide Skills Development Framework, apprenticeship routes and foundation degrees tailored to integrated youth support services, a Youth Professional Status (YPS) and a graduate recruitment scheme (GRS). Further information on the Young People's Workforce Reform Programme is available.

The Young People's Workforce Reform Programme is funded through the Department of Schools, Children and Families and has developed with the following partners: Association of Directors of Children's Services; Children's Workforce Development Council; Creative and Cultural Skills SSC; General Teaching Council for England; Lifelong Learning UK SSC; National Youth Agency; National Council of Voluntary Youth Services; Skills Active SSC; Skills for Health SSC; Skills for Justice SSC; and the Training and Development Agency for Schools.


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