The Canadian-based Commonwealth of Learning is set to provide support to the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) to conduct training to upskill local youth workers in an effort to enhance their knowledge on how to work with and train young people. The premise of the COL Professionalising Youth Work Programme is to offer a suite of micro courses to build the capacity of youth workers to better understand youth and to develop and utilize strategies to support them in their development to becoming fully engaged and contributing members of society. The first micro courses are expected to launch in fall 2021, with roll outs every six weeks.
Topics include, but are not limited to good governance in youth organizations, health and well-being, youth entrepreneurship and youth civic and political participation.
BTVI’s President, Dr. Robert W. Robertson said that trained youth workers are important, even moreso in a pandemic when young people are personally affected by the challenges COVID-19 has brought upon their families.
“The young people of the country represent a considerable asset in need of support and guidance. The continued positive development of youth is paramount and youth workers play an integral role in this regard. Youth workers wear many hats and their training should evolve. Hence, we are delighted to work with a credible organization like the COL, to provide this structured training certificate. It is an exciting endeavour to upskill youth workers,” said Dr. Robertson.
“It is the same youth workers who guide young people in being model citizens, taking care of their health and acquiring skills – skills which could lead to entrepreneurship – which is a big thrust for BTVI. We are adamant about not just becoming employees, but employers,” added Dr. Robertson. COL has worked with Lakehead University and the University of the South Pacific (USP) to develop and deliver a suite of micro-courses for youth workers focused on the South Pacific region. In general, youth workers and related professionals, such as health workers, educators and business operators are the target groups of the project. For the BTVI activity, COL and Lakehead will provide support to facilitators and/or co-facilitate.
Headquartered in Burnaby, Canada, the Commonwealth of Learning is the world’s only inter- governmental organization solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning. It was created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL’s Education Adviser, Dr. Kirk Perris, noted that the organization is focused on providing guidance on virtual learning globally and in particular to the 54-member Commonwealth. He added that COL’s expertise will be of particular value in creating youth-at-risk courses in The Bahamas.
“COL is excited to participate in this activity with BTVI carrying the objective of upskilling youth workers to support youth across the archipelago. Nearly 40% of the population are 24 years or younger, and the unemployment rate for youth is double the national average of 11%. Providing learning opportunities to support youth workers will have a corresponding positive impact on youth,” said Dr. Perris. Following the training, interviews and focus groups with selected participants are research methods which will be used with the prospect to inform interventions in other regions of the Commonwealth and beyond. Stakeholders attending the intervention will be invited to participate in this research aspect separately, as an extension to their participation in the
development of the youth work courses. Lakehead will carry out the research component.