WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY: Salesian Missions highlights life-changing training for poor youth
Salesians offer more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 15, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in celebrating World Youth Skills Day, celebrated each year on July 15 since 2014. The United Nations designated the day as a way to bring greater awareness of the importance of technical and vocational education and training, as well as the development of other skills relevant to both local and global economies.
The theme for this year’s World Youth Skills Day is “Skilling teachers, trainers and youth for a transformative future.” It focuses on the role teachers, trainers and other educators play in helping youth gain the skills needed for employment and transition into the labor market to actively engage in their communities and societies.
The Salesians are regarded as the single largest provider of vocational and technical training in the world. They offer more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe. This training provides youth with the practical skills to prepare for employment and helps them lead productive lives while becoming contributing adults in their communities. These programs go beyond educating. They also assist youth with making connections within industries and preparing them for the process of searching, finding and retaining employment.
“Access to education lays the foundation for a better future for all youth,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “In many countries around the globe where poverty is high and access to education is not universal, it is crucial that Salesian missionaries continue to offer technical and vocational training to as many youth as possible to ensure that they have access to long-term stable employment. When youth learn employable skills, they can enter the workforce prepared, earning an income to help themselves and improve their communities.”
To mark World Youth Skills Day 2023, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight technical and vocational programs that provide life-changing education and skills training for poor and at-risk youth.
The Tuwe Wafundi School of Trades, part of the Don Bosco Center in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo*, provides education to homeless youth ages 17-22. These youth were once living on the street with no access to shelter or education. Salesians estimate upward of
6,000 youth, more than 1,000 of whom are girls, are homeless in the city. At the Salesian center, youth access 13 months of free vocational training in carpentry, auto mechanics, assembly welding and masonry.
More than a year ago, the class size expanded from 100 to 150 students. They were youth who had little hope for the future. When they arrived at the Don Bosco Center, they underwent two months of literacy or remedial education, eight months of practical training in a trade, and then three months of work experience with craftspeople on a construction site, in a workshop, or in a small business.
Of the 150 who started their education, 116 received their professional certificates on March 5. Many of the graduates are already working, given jobs with the companies where they interned. Of the graduates, 24 young women participated in the program and 23 completed and passed. One young woman from the masonry program received the highest grades in the entire school.
Salesian missionaries in Machala, Ecuador, launched a project to provide technical education for more than 200 at-risk young people from low-income sectors in the city. Salesians also supported 20 small family business initiatives to improve the living conditions of the beneficiaries. The project was supported by the Salesian Mission Office in Madrid, the ADEY Foundation and the Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Ecuador.
The goal was to reduce poverty by strengthening technical skills and promoting family and entrepreneurship for young people ages 18-35. Courses focused mostly on young women who are migrants, mainly from Venezuela, and Ecuadorian citizens experiencing social exclusion, including single mothers and economically dependent women. With lower levels of education, these young women face the greatest barriers to accessing training and employment.
Education included courses in gastronomy, cosmetics and cell phone repair, which were held at three different times. Each course included 108 hours of face-to-face lectures on technical topics, 12 hours of lectures on peace culture, entrepreneurship, and business models, and 24 hours of hands-on individual work that was done at home. A total of 218 students participated in the courses, with 68% of the students women and 32% men. Of the students, 56% were from Ecuador and 44% were migrants.
Five students received scholarships to attend Don Bosco Technique, located in Fidar, Lebanon,* thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The school is one of the area’s few professional institutes and welcomes many youth who have difficulties attending school. The goal is to provide them with an education and social supports so they remain in school and gain the skills needed for employment.
Don Bosco Technique offers several different programs for youth, including mechanics, electrical installation, hairdressing and computer science. One of the school’s most sought-after
programs is focused on training in catering and hotel services. There is a large employment sector across the world for graduates in these areas.
The educational programs at Don Bosco Technique are created to help youth have a smooth school to work transition. Because Salesian missionaries live in the communities in which they work, they are knowledgeable of market conditions and what employment sectors are the most advantageous for employment.
Nearly 1,400 people in Peru benefited from a donation from ASAP – Tools for Empowerment thanks to a partnership with Salesian Missions. Don Bosco Foundation received the donation and distributed it to seven Salesian organizations in 2022. Salesian organizations that received the donation include Bosconia Technical Education Center, Salesians in Piura, Salesian Polytechnic Education Center and Salesians in Monte Salvado, among others.
The donated tools and equipment have been used mostly by students in technical training centers. Students have access to them during the practical part of their training in courses focused on carpentry, automotive mechanics, electricity, industrial pattern making (textiles), metalworking and agriculture. The tools are also used for maintenance and gardening, and in the warehouse.
Students who have completed their training have also benefited from basic tool kits including hammers, pliers, screwdrivers and saws. Young Venezuelan migrants housed in the Magdalena Shelter benefited from baseball equipment for their recreational activities.
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