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Research says youth work develops key soft skills


The adult population in Scotland sees confidence and motivation as more important than qualifications in enabling people to meet life goals, according to new research.

A study by consultancy Hall Aitken found that 85% of Scots rated confidence as very important in achieving their ambitions compared to 53% for qualifications.

The report was commissioned by national agency YouthLink Scotland to demonstrate the value of youth work, described in the study as ‘an educational practice contributing to young people’s learning and development’.

Hall Aitken conducted its own research, concluding that there is ‘broad evidence that youth work builds a range of soft skills and capabilities including, in particular, confidence and motivation’.

"Some other studies show that employers view confidence and motivation as even more important in relative terms than qualifications, with 85% rating them as very important compared to 27% for qualifications," the report said.

Hall Aitken estimates that the increased earnings range attributable to the development of soft skills is between £4,906 and £6,091 annually. This figure was worked out by considering the number of people who may have been significantly influenced by youth work; the key outcomes of youth work such as confidence and motivation; and estimates for the contribution of confidence and motivation to economic success.

Kath Grant, ASDAN Director of Education, said: “This report underlines the vital importance of youth work in terms of improving young people’s life chances and helping them develop key skills for learning and employment.

“Our short courses can be used to accredit extra-curricular activities in schools and youth work settings. There are over 20 registered ASDAN centres in Scotland in the voluntary and youth sectors, providing short courses such as Activities and Peer Tutoring and Volunteering. These courses help structure youth work and have been proven to help young people develop soft skills such as learning, teamwork, coping with problems and use of IT.”

ASDAN is a member of the Awards Network, a forum of providers of non-formal learning awards across Scotland. Last month, ASDAN representatives attended a special Westminster parliamentary reception for the Awards Network to highlight the achievements of tens of thousands of young Scots who had their non-formal learning recognised or accredited through one or more of the 23 members of the network.