When organizations, businesses, agencies, and other groups hire youth, they can be staff members in programs for adults, other youth, children, or for the community at large. Engaging youth as workers can be an empowering opportunity for them, and an enriching activity in the workplace.
To many a man, and sometimes to a youth, there comes the opportunity to choose between honorable competence and tainted wealth. The young man who starts out to be poor and honorable, holds in his hand one of the strongest elements of success.— Orison Swett Marden
Ways Youth Engagement as Workers Happens
Business Owners — Youth can start and operate businesses of all kinds. Practical, positive and successful endeavors can teach youth countless skills, build communities through economic impacts and positive interactions, and other great outcomes.
Out of School Time Staff — When youth have opportunities to lead, teach, direct and partner with their peers and children, they can grow in the afternoons when school is out, on weekends, and over the summertime.
Youth as Program Directors — Leading youth programs requires a high degree of responsibility; the ability to learn from doing; and the desire to make a difference in the lives of other people. Youth as program directors can learn powerful skills while changing peoples’ lives.
Needs for Youth Engagement as Workers
Inspiration — In a world that generally relies on youth being passive consumers of adult-made decisions, youth as paid staff sometimes require inspiration and motivation to get involved and sustain their efforts.
Opportunities — Once they’re inspired, youth need opportunities to take action! Creating workforce development opportunities, or career and technical education activities is essential, especially when focusing on youth engagement as the outcome.
Training — Rather than simply “throwing them into the fire”, employers need to train young people in how to become engaged in their workplace. Additionally, adults who work with youth need to learn how to engage youth, too.
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Youth Engagement Activities: Activism | Activity Leading | Advising | Advocating | Arts | Board Directors | Consumerism | Decision Making | Democracy | Designing | Entrepreneurship | Evaluating | Facilitating | Farming | Grant-Making and Philanthropy | Lobbying | Making and Producing | Media Making | Mediating | Mentorship | Nation Building | Organizers | Planners | Policy-Makers | Politicians | Popular Education | Radical Transparency | Recruiters | Researchers | Service Learning | Specialists | Teachers | Trainers | Volunteers | Voters | Workers | Youth Summits | Youth Forums | Youth Action Councils
- “Youth empowerment, education, employment key to future development” by the United Nations
- The Youth Employment Partnership – YEP has a vision that all Oakland youth and young adults will have the necessary work history, experience and soft skills to be self-sufficient, stable, and engaged members of our communities.
- “Youth Empowerment and Employment Programme” by the United Nations Development Programme
- “What Works in Youth Employment – Findings of the Kenya Youth Empowerment Programme” – International Labor Organization
- “Fact Sheet on Youth Employment: Youth perspectives on the pursuit of decent work in changing times” from the United Nations World Youth Report
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how Freechild Institute can support youth + social change through youth workers in your community or organization, contact us.
Special thanks to Edward DeJesus for his contributions to this page!
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