Youthworkers should have higher salaries than Clergy, heres 14 reasons why:

So I have lit the proverbial touch paper this week, with a post that looked at the rate of pay of church based youth workers over the last 20 odd years. Pay that ranged from 12,000 in 1998 to 24,000 in 2005 (one church only)- all the rest were nearer £19,000. Many questions emerged from the discussions on it such as

  • Why should churches adopt the JNC pay scales, its a different paradigm? 
  • Churches arent adopting the JNC scale like they used to, neither are they asking for qualified, its as if they want youth work on the cheap? 
  • £12,000 is shocking!
  • How do these compare with youthworkers in faith based organisations instead of churches? 
  • Is it better to have low pay in a church than higher pay in an organisation and then be ‘forced’ to find your own funding for the role. (NB a task that even more youthworkers in churches are having to do anyway) 
  • You think this is bad, try being a childrens worker …
  • Has anyone actually put a value or price on what is reasonable salary for the work (and the same can be said for many roles in church) 
  • You think this is bad, what about the gap year students…

And there were a few others, some you can find on my facebook page, some of these are for a different day, or in the comments below on that particular post, a link to it is here: ‘Are youthworkers paid peanuts?‘ . However, a stand out comment, was on twitter, that compared the salary both then and now of clergy salaries, compared to youthworkers, and also what youthworker salary has to pay for. It was also said by someone, a member of the clergy no less that a youthworker should have a stipend, rather than salary, with the same tax benefits. So, the debate rumbles on, though i fear that the stable door for equalising youthworker pay with clergy might have bolted somewhat. Though soon with the closure of many youth worker courses there wont be many specialists left. But still young people leaving the church by the dozen. So, from a purely financial salary perspective, not including add ons or extras, and as a result of the discussions over the last 36 hours, I have put together the following list of all the reasons why a youthworkers salary should be higher than the senior clergy. Even if often the ‘youthworker cant be paid more than the clergy as it would be wrong’ – actually it might be wrong the other way around. For these reasons:

 

  1. Housing. They, a youthworker has to pay for their own – This is at least £600 month
  2. Utilities. They have to pay for their own – For many at least £120/month
  3. Council Tax….ok so you see where I am going with this, same reason as 1 & 2. 
  4. If the church is employing a youthworker ‘because it doesnt know what to do about young people’ then surely this expertise needs to be numerated accordingly?
  5. It would create a culture where youth work role might be seen as a proper ministry in the church, or it might…
  6. It may stop the small but significant flow of really experienced youthworkers furthering their vocation to also increase salary by becoming ordained and keeping experienced youthworkers in one place to work with young people over a long term. (emphasis on ‘It may’ as i know many dont make this leap for the money, maybe itll stop those heading to teaching instead)
  7. The youthworker has to find their own support, supervision and training, by the notion that often the pastor/minister has most of this laid on for them by the diocese/affiliation, then surely then the youthworker needs to be paid more for taking this responsibility.
  8. The youthworker should have the highest salary, because it is a more specialised role.
  9. Neither does a youthworker get bursaries for laptops, clothing and other equipment when they finish their training- they pay for these themselves. 
  10. A youthworker is employed to help keep and grow the church, because this is why they are often employed. With great responsibility should also come great pay (to obliterate the quote from spiderman)
  11. On many occasions the youth worker actually supports and helps the pastors, and not the other way around, with thinking on mission, conversations, approaches and community work – again this is barely recognised it is knowledge and networks the whole church benefit from not the ‘yoof’. 
  12. Supply and demand. There’s more jobs than there are youth workers, depending on the part of the country, that kind of competition should be ramping up the salaries.
  13. The youthworker will have a student loan to pay off for their studies, often. Clergy probably have (in the cofe) their studies paid for. (unless of course a youth worker isnt paid enough that they have to start paying it off) 
  14. The youthworker, like the clergy is never off duty, but never says that they are ‘on call’ either – part of their work deliberately includes the non-session time. 

Some of these are legitimate, others with tongue firmly in cheek, so bear with me a little. I know also that not every clergy/minister/pastor will have all of the things that are mentioned here, and work part time very sacrificially, this is quite true. It is also as true also that far far less youthworkers have any of these things. Though jobs with housing seemed more popular in the 1998 editions of youth work than recently, Maybe housing was cheaper then… And there will be easily arguments that clergy salary should be higher especially from clergy.

I wonder whether however, the issue is less about pay, and more about how much of the pay that the youthworker might actually see, especially when housing and utility costs are taken into account, and often these are paid for by the local church or diocese, not always, but often. And clergy who leave parish posts for diocese posts have a bit of a shock when the bills actually start coming through, as do ‘house repairs’. But pound for pound, this isnt a judgement on roles and the value of each role, but when it comes to deciding in a local church about how much a youth worker salary is, maybe it is time to think, actually how much will we pay them so that they can actually afford to live and live relatively comfortably in the parish, and not have to pay 1/2 their salary on rent or mortgage (ha ha, if you can get one).

So, consider the touch paper lit even more, not out of trying to be antagonistic, but maybe think about it – what kind of ministry amongst people, usually vulnerable young people are we creating, that is shaped in a way that causes financial tension and stress for the employee, before they even leave their front door to work with young people. I know money is tight everywhere, or at least in some quarters it is (though prioritising funding on mission and salaries might just be more important than office blocks and temporary quick fixes.

Maybe it would be a prophetic statement of the church, in an age when young people and youthwork is cut to the bone and young people continually derided for societies ills, that says that it is going to invest heavily and consistently on youthwork provision. Maybe. Statement that young people are actually important. You never know.

Oh and maybe in some churches youthworkers do have higher salaries, but there cant be many.

Pay youthworkers the same as clergy, yeah, and see the number of jobs for youthworkers shoot through the floor..

 

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We shouldnt knock NCS, its the only good thing this government has done for young people in 7 years.

Earlier this week I was having a pretty down sort of day, nothing major in the major sense of the word, fed up, half way through a fairly quiet/dull week off annual leave and hadnt really done anything, then a few money worries added to this, and I played and lost a game of tennis against my son, less out of physical inability just mentally not in the right place. And in that ‘place’ I wrote my previous piece on the pending demise of NCS, and it was a brilliantly executed piece of prose, full of humour, wit and intelligence that was then shared around the place a bit. However, it was also hugely critical of NCS, a programme that has already taken a substantial knocking from the youth work fraternity. That post is here: https://wp.me/p2Az40-17V  

And, as a i reflected i realised, that, like many programmes, franchises and projects that are subject to funding outcomes and objectives, they are often delivered by people who try in the main to do a good job, despite circumstances, who have livelihoods, and who are doing what they can despite this to help young people. So, on the record, its not the persons who deliver or work for it that are in any way the problem.

Theres a long standing tradition also, for youth workers, teachers, social workers to be critical of government policies, funding and strategies that dictate the nature of, or termination of their work with young people. And so, in the spirit of trying to provide a balance, of criticism which is easy, and praise in the current circumstances, which might be more difficult. I put out on social media earlier, the following question:

How has this government in the last 7 years have improved life & opportunities for young people in the UK. Are there any examples? 

It comes in a week, when there might be many children who have parents who are 6 weeks without income due to universal credit, children who have had their exam grades all changed in the most recent GCSEs, young people who are waiting 18 months for mental health appointments and assessment and the rest, removal of EMA, restriction on housing benefit, increase in youth homelessness…, But what about the good things this government has done for young people?

These were the responses via social media;

  1. ‘Increase in the personal tax allowance. So yes, if young people have a low paid job, they can keep a bit more before tax. ‘
  2. Apprenticeships are better.
  3. ‘im struggling to think of any… NCS?

It is not a scientific survey i realise, but in 3 hours this is all the responses i have had, and NCS was one.

When I thought about it earlier today, NCS was the only thing I could think of.

It gives young people and their parents a 6 week course for £50. It might be easy to say that the tories have rescued the economy, to help young people in the long term with jobs/housing/health but they actually havent, an admission that Theresa May is making continuously, as if she wasnt part of the last 6 years. There may be a few other policies, practices or interventions that have been good for young people that have gone under the radar, but with every service for young people subject to targetted outcomes and inspection, its only young people who lose out, outcomes become the focus, ask every teacher, social worker, youth worker.

NCS is a metaphor in itself of the way in which the government views young people, an economic entity that can be fixed in 6 weeks. Then it reveals much. That NCS is deemed the best thing that this government has done for young people in the UK is an ironic indictment of how forgotten young people are in society. The government is about to wash its hands of NCS and hand it over to local government. Not wanting to be responsible when the ship sinks, currently it stinks.

Maybe the only good thing this government has done for young people, has enraged them. Whisper it quietly, but political youth culture is making a comeback.

 

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