Are the youth developing practical skills?

Skills development among young people is one of the practical ways through which the society can achieve self reliance. The youths have a lot of potential to develop practical skills that can help them create their own jobs and have meaningful lives.
Mechanical engineering students learning engine maintenance tips. Education Times/ Timothy Kisambira.
Mechanical engineering students learning engine maintenance tips. Education Times/ Timothy Kisambira.

Skills development among young people is one of the practical ways through which the society can achieve self reliance. The youths have a lot of potential to develop practical skills that can help them create their own jobs and have meaningful lives.

The activity is one of the four mandatory sections of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for Young People. The program operates in over one hundred twenty countries worldwide. It empowers young people between fourteen and twenty five years with life skills. There are three progressive levels of the Award which include Bronze: six months; Silver: twelve months and Gold: eighteen months. At the end of each level, the Secretariat awards the participants medals and certificates that are internationally recognised.

According to the Award programme, the participant selects a skill that he develops over a specified period. This is done concurrently with community service, physical recreation and adventurous journey. There are several skills from which the participant selects.

The skill can be music related whereby the individual may learn to play an instrument, singing in a choir, singing solo or train to become a disc jockey.

The participant may select a crafts skill like basket weaving, ceramics, cookery, embroidery, dress making, jewellery making and leather work among others.

The skill can also be arts related like calligraphy, drawing, painting, photography and sculpture.

The individual may select a nature based skill like farming, aquarium keeping, bee keeping, fishing, forestry, gardening and horticulture.

There are communication skills that the individual may choose from these include film and video making, foreign languages, newsletter and magazine production, creative writing, public speaking and debating.

The Award participant can choose a life skill like event planning and organisation, drugs awareness, health awareness and peer education.

Vocational skills are also readily available to the participant to choose from. Such skills include hairdressing, vehicle maintenance, information technology, home economics, fashion and design, furniture making, metal work and tailoring among others.

The participant can also do drama and theatre.

Requirements

Participants should choose an activity which they find interesting and one which they can be able to follow over a sustained period following the target set.

 The participants undertake their skills with an activity coach with considerable knowledge of the activity. The activity coach may be a teacher, youth leader or an experienced adult who can guide and teach them.

Participants may choose to work towards certification from an organisation that delivers and assesses the activity. This is not compulsory to obtain the Award, but it will enhance the sense of achievement of participants, and may help them in their future life or search for work.

Benefits

Participants discover new abilities and they are able to improve on the existing ones.

They are able to enhance self-confidence by successfully setting and achieving goals.

Participants develop time management and planning skills.

They are able to interact socially, by meeting new people, and interacting with adults in a meaningful way.

The activity helps the young people improve on their employability by learning vocational skills.

The participants are able to discover their own potential and this helps them to develop a sense of creativity.

It enhances self motivation among young people. This is because they willingly select skills that are in line with their interests.

The Award programme targets young people in high schools, higher institutions of learning and those who may be out of school as long as they are in the age bracket of fourteen to twenty five. The program is intended to operate at minimal cost so that many young people are encouraged to participate and become self-reliant.

The program operates through Award units that are licensed by the Africa regional office situated in Nairobi, Kenya. The International Award website is www.intaward.org.

The writer is an Award leader and teacher at Riviera High School.

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