GGYA Takes Local Lead in World Youth Skills Day

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The Governor General Youth Award helps young people discover what they’re good at. Participants must take up a skill for a minimum of three, six or 12 months depending on whether they are in pursuit of a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award.

It is one of the few programs driving young Bahamians to equip themselves with practical and vocational skills for life and work. As the United Nation observes World Youth Skills Day today Wednesday, July 15, the Governor General’s Youth Award said it’s important to recognize young people who work to enhance their knowledge and celebrate the effort they’ve put in. 

Last year, 1,787 GGYA participants from across the nation gave it a go learning a new skill or improving an existing one. Conservative estimates placed their total combined effort at well over 25,000 hours, building expertise in a wide range of areas. Each GGYA participant must commit at least an hour a week to developing a skill.

The duration depends on the Award level. For the 1,494 Bronze participants it was 60 minutes a week for 13 weeks. The 214 young people who pursued Silver engaged in a skill-building activity over 26 weeks, while Gold demanded an hour a week for one year. “This shows motivation and commitment,” said Jacquetta Maycock, GGYA’s assistant national director. “By developing skills in line with their personal interests our participants, who are between the ages of 14 and 24, increase their employability. This is particularly useful in today’s ever-changing environment.” According to a Caribbean Development Bank report, youth unemployment in the region — those between 15 and 24 — is among the highest in the world, reaching 42.7 percent.  Not surprisingly, skills development could play and important role in building a brighter future for many. R.M. Bailey tenth grader, Samuel Sherman used his time spent in Technical Cadets as his skill requirement.

This summer, he put his knowledge and natural curiosity to use when he attempted coding – using a programming language to get a computer to behave how you want it to.  “Do a skill that could benefit you in the future,” advised the 15-year-old, Bronze-level participant  who ultimately hopes to create robots or computer games. According to the UN’s World Skills Day website prior to the current crisis, young people aged 15-24 were three times more likely than adults to be unemployed and often faced a prolonged school-to-work transition period.  

“In post-COVID-19 societies, as young people are called upon to contribute to the recovery effort, they will need to be equipped with the skills to successfully manage evolving challenges and the resilience to adapt to future disruptions,” said the UN. As the local arm of the UK-based Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, the world’s leading youth achievement program, GGYA helps young people gain essential skills, experience, confidence and resilience to successfully navigate adult life.   When it comes to buildings skills, participants are only limited by their imagination. The activities run the gamut from cooking and music to fishing, junkanoo, CPR and everything in between.
“The skills component of our program brings with it a sense of achievement as participants must show growth,”

said Ms Maycock. “Learning something new or building upon existing knowledge increases confidence. We also find our skill section provides an avenue for participants to further differentiate themselves in a highly-competitive market. Our program prides itself on young people engage in non-formal activities that will equip them for life” Hard-pressed to keep her GGYA unit going during the COVID-19 pandemic, Anatol Rodgers High parent-leader Shari Green got creative when it came to identifying a skill her 72-strong unit  could complete. Then, she found a free AED/CPR and First-Aid certification offered online.

The United Nation observes World Youth Skills Day on Wed.
July 15. Pictured here, a GGYA participant tries his hand at baking.

She utilized Google classrooms and Zoom to facilitate the learning experience. To motivate the 46 participants who accepted her challenge, she offered to assist with costs associated with the adventurous journey for the first 10 students completing the course.  

“This is more than a skill, this training is life-saving,” said the parent who began assisting the unit last January and ultimately became unit leader after her son graduated from the school. “Seeing how we are going through this pandemic this training is particularly useful. This is not just for GGYA. Throughout their life, in the event of an emergency, they can use this knowledge. Designated by the General Assembly in 2014, the World Youth Skills Day is an opportunity for young people, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, and public and private sector stakeholders to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.

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