Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Youth Work Courses.

76.

asked the Minister for Education if he has any plans to organise youth work courses for professional workers at university level.

I am at present examing in some detail, the whole situation with regard to youth policy.

Meanwhile, this year, as an experimental measure I decided to grant aid to two students to do a two-year course in "Youth and Community Work" in the Northern Ireland Polytechnic. The results of participation in this course will be carefully examined.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is a demand from the many youth organisations throughout the country for full-time youth workers?

Is the Parliamentary Secretary satisfied about the fact that he has decided to grant aid to only two students?

The problem here is to determine the best form of youth worker provision. It would not be right for the Department to go ahead and provide any old sort of course in any old place without being sure that the type of training being imparted was suitable to the type of employment which we are going to make available. It would be wrong to make a decision in relation to training in advance of making a decision in relation to the type of job which would be available. For that reason we are proceeding—at, I should add, the suggestion of the National Youth Council —on a cautious experimental basis.

Might I ask the Parliamentary Secretary if any consideration has been given to courses available in Britain? Is he aware of the fact that a number of persons had to go to Britain in order to take courses and got no assistance whatever from the Department of Education even though similar courses are not available here?

It would be wrong for the Department to grant aid to persons who undertake training unless we were sure that employment suitable to the training they received would be available. On the question of examining the courses in Britain, I can assure the Deputy that we are doing so and that, in fact, officers of my Department will be going to Scotland later in the month to examine the whole youth worker provision there.

It has not been done as yet. May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary would he not agree that there is a crying need for expert youth officers and that there is an absolute guarantee of work for them if they complete such courses?

We think that it is best to be sure that the type of course provided is suitable to the work that will be available and the matter is still under very active consideration.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there are a number of persons employed as youth workers and surely they would be able to give the information he is seeking rather than go over to Britain?

I would not like to convey to the Deputy that we are relying exclusively on information from Great Britain. In fact, I was discussing the matter in great detail, last night, with the National Youth Council.