Compulsory community service for the young

Initially discussed in 2006, Gordon Brown has launched The National Youth Service, which will make every young person do 50 hours of voluntary work by the time they reach the age of 19.

The Prime Minister said a pledge to introduce compulsory community service would be included in Labour’s next General Election manifesto. Under the scheme, the work is likely to become part of the National Curriculum. It would be integrated into moves to make everyone stay in education or training until the age of 18 by 2011.

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Mr Brown insisted: “It is my ambition to create a Britain in which there is a clear expectation that all young people will undertake some service to their community, and where community service will become a normal part of growing up in Britain.And, by doing so, the contributions of each of us will build a better society for all of us.”

“That would mean young people being expected to contribute at least 50 hours of community service by the time they have reached the age of 19. This will build on the platform provided by citizenship classes as they develop in our schools. But because the greater part of what I envisage as community service takes place outside the school day, it will require the close involvement of local community organisations and charities.”

This appears to be a promising intent to engage young people with services. But what will this look like? Is it realistic?