Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Youth Workers.

81.

asked the Minister for Education when a decision will be made regarding the establishment of courses at university level for full-time youth workers.

I am not in a position at this stage to state if such a decision will be taken. However this whole area is being intensively examined by my Department.

I have no doubt the Parliamentary Secretary is aware of the importance of establishing full-time youth courses at university level and is he aware that this particular demand is being made by every youth organisation in the country? When can we hope to have some decision?

I am not in a position to give any specific date in relation to this matter or to anticipate what initiative will be taken.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary accept that one of the crying needs in the whole field of youth work is the provision of an adequate supply of trained youth workers?

Trained workers have a contribution to make. I also think it is of importance that the voluntary character of youth work should be maintained.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the presence of youth workers greatly helps to make more effective the work of voluntary organisations? There is a scarcity of such workers and this is recognised. Will he give an indication to the House whether he intends taking any steps to provide courses to enable persons interested to take this up as full-time work?

As the House is probably aware, for the first time scholarships have been sanctioned for two people at a course in full-time youth work in the Ulster Polythecnic in County Antrim. This is the first time this step has been taken by any administration. It is experimental and I do not wish to tie myself to any full-scale career structure until the full implications are understood.

I addressed a similar question to the Parliamentary Secretary last year and he informed me then that he was sending officials of his Department to England to study how fulltime youth workers are employed there. Has he had any report back from these officials?

I have no recollection of ever having stated that I had sent officials to England for this purpose. The Deputy may be aware that officials of my Department went on a trip to Scotland.

I suggest the Parliamentary Secretary should look up the Official Report. He will find I am correct.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that over 18 months ago discussions were in hand with professors of sociology in one of the constituent colleges of the national university with a view to establishing the kind of course envisaged in the question.

Then, if he is not so aware, he should inquire.