Youth must play a part in governance

14th May 2004 at 01:00
In advocating young people's involvement in shaping services and learning provision (FE Focus editorial, April 16) you make a very valid case for respecting them as consumers who have a real contribution to make to Connexions and to the Learning and Skills Council's plans for learning provision.

In the Greater Merseyside area, Connexions has a young people's sub-committee of its board of directors which has elected two young people to the full board. They play a key role in providing direction and feedback to the wider partnership and are able to deal with complex concepts as evidenced by the production of the young people's balanced scorecard for measuring effectiveness of the Connexions service from the perspective of service users.

Young people's involvement in governance and continuous service improvement is typical of all Connexions partnerships.

We have learnt that not to involve them is to fail to capture the energy and ideas of a very creative and critical force within our area.

This does not produce a "talking shop". Young people are sophisticated consumers who will quickly recognise the futility of talk without action.

The initial response of adults to the involvement of young people in policy making and governance is to ask, "Are they ready for the challenge?" In my experience, that question is better levelled at the adults seeking to involve young people.

We should not take lightly the idea of young people's involvement, and we must ensure that we do it properly and with conviction.

Not to prepare this path is to increase the chances of failure and the alienation of the young people we wish to involve.

Kieran Gordon.

Chief Executive

Greater Merseyside Connexions Partnership

Wood Street

Liverpool L1.

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