The objective of the current work is to build an inclusive framework for endorsement of community work education and training at all levels in order to ensure the principles for quality community work as laid out in All Ireland Standards for Community Work.
Moves towards certification and professional endorsement processes in parallel disciplines e.g. youth and social work and evolving national and European qualifications frameworks, as well as professional concerns and government cut backs give both a timeliness and urgency to our discussions.
An increased number of individuals, agencies, and institutions now offer community development or associated training and education at various levels and standards, with little coherency in terms of who teaches, what gets taught, what duration, what cost, and what underpinning values. In addition, many of those managing community development have no background in the field.
Complex skills and competences as well as values and practice principles are required to do community work well, although as an open profession committed to ensuring access for participants in community initiatives, prior qualifications are not mandatory to securing a community work position.
Communities need to be able to trust the worker and those using community approaches in ways that protect rather than exploit them. Values and practice principles, such as those in The All Ireland Standards for Community Work, are essential for an ethical practice and the process of developing the community work discipline. So too are recognised education and training programmes. Training and education, properly delivered and endorsed is an important way of benchmarking quality.
Key concerns are the maintenance, protection and enhancement of high standards through;
- finding routes from individual consciousness-raising to professional activity through access and progression routes
- developing a framework which finds ways to acknowledge and include community workers currently working without qualifications
- ensuring participation in education and training by people from marginalised groups and communities who are the target of community work interventions
- setting the norm for qualifications to do the complex jobs involved at the highest possible level while at the same time creating accessible and inclusive routes
- including education programmes at all levels and length in the framework for certification and
- attempting to generate a process which is peer led, inclusive of all stakeholders, robust and at the same time mindful of the need to avoid being too time consuming and expensive in a supportive manner.
For a database of all island education and training programmes in community work and community development (March 2010), please click here: