Workforce need training to tackle teenage pregnancies

All children’s workers must be equipped with the skills and knowledge to address sex and relationship issues, according to the independent experts charged with monitoring implementation of the teenage pregnancy strategy.

The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy is concerned about the confidence and competence of the children’s workforce in relating to young people’s emotional and social development and believes a common foundation course and standards are needed to address the problem.

“A specific module should be included in pre- and post-qualification training as part of the children’s workforce development,” the group recommends in its sixth annual report, published this week.

The group has also repeated its previous recommendations to make personal, social and health education obligatory in all schools. “It is becoming indefensible to argue against this,” said group chair Gill Frances. “Schools are central to children and young people’s lives and are the best place for them to learn the life skills and knowledge needed to meet the challenges of young adulthood.”

Other recommendations include dedicated personal advisers to coordinate support for all teenage parents, and the introduction of measures to ensure that primary care trusts invest in young people’s preventive health care – despite budgetary pressures.

“The teenage pregnancy independent advisory group is extremely concerned that some PCTs are disinvesting in these services for young people,” the report states.

“While we are aware of the pressures faced by PCTs in tackling the NHS deficit and meeting the 48-hour genitor-urinary medicine access target, there can be no logic in slashing services for young people, especially when there is such a strong social and economic argument for reducing the rates of teenage pregnancies.”

The main goals of the teenage pregnancy strategy are to halve the rates of conceptions by 2010 and get more teenage parents into education, training or employment.

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