WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY: Salesians provide more than 1,000 training schools around the globe
Salesian Missions highlights life-changing vocational and technical training programs for poor youth.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 15, 2021) 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, which has been celebrated each year on July 15 since 2014. The United Nations designated the day as a way to bring greater awareness of and discussion on the importance of technical and vocational education and training and the development of other skills relevant to both local and global economies.
The theme for this year’s World Youth Skills Day is “Reimagining Youth Skills Post Pandemic” and is focused on the changing landscape of technical and vocational training (TVET). UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, noted, “While vaccination rollouts offer some hope, TVET still has a long road to recovery, especially in those countries which continue to be overwhelmed by the spread of the disease. Youth skills development will face a range of unfamiliar problems emerging from a crisis where training has been disrupted in an unprecedented manner on a virtually universal scale.”
The U.N. added, “TVET has a key role to play in fostering the resilience of young people. It is crucial for all stakeholders to ensure the continuity of skills development and to introduce training programs to bridge skills gaps. Solutions need to be reimagined in a way that considers not only the realities of the present, but also the full range of possibilities for the future.”
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 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.
“We know that access to education lays the foundation for a better future for all youth and that work must continue even as we face a global health crisis,” said Father Gus Baek, 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.”
To mark World Youth Skills Day 2021, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight technical and vocational education that provides life-changing education and skills training for poor and at-risk youth.
The collaboration between the Salesian Vocational Training School in Sesto San Giovanni, a commune in Milan, Italy, and Yamaha Motor Italia established during the 2019-20 school year has already brought about a positive impact. Although both institutions had to face challenges during lockdown, two graduates of the program have started work at official Yamaha dealers.
The program provides automotive training courses that meet the Yamaha standard. Students are then able to access internships for on-the-job training with Yamaha dealerships. After graduation, they are often offered advanced course work at Yamaha and employment at dealerships.
The partnership with Yamaha is a flagship professional training program at the Salesian Vocational Training School. Director Francesco Cristinelli noted, “Youth have the opportunity to have access to cutting-edge automotive workshops and to work on the latest generation of Yamaha-branded vehicles. Then the best, like Marco and Michele, have the opportunity to build their future inside first-rate dealerships.”
Don Bosco Agro-Mechanical Technology Center (known locally as Don Bosco Legazpi), located in Banquerohan, Legazpi City, Philippines, is helping a new generation of farmers prepare for the future. The average age of farmers in the country is 57, and youth have a real opportunity to gain steady employment and make an impact on farming in their communities.
Don Bosco Legazpi is a technical vocational school offering skills training and a farm development program to help youth and local farmers achieve self-sufficiency. As part of the center, Salesians have seven hectares of land for agricultural production, known as the Don Bosco Demonstration Farm. On the farm, Salesians teach agricultural production and proper utilization of agricultural equipment.
There is also the Don Bosco agricultural multi-purpose cooperative which facilitates microfinancing to farmers and coordinates the use of tractors and other mechanics for land preparation, planting, weeding, marketing and training. Part of the agricultural production is raising pigs and chickens. Currently, Salesians have facilities for 14 sows and two buildings for 1,000 chickens each. The chickens produce eggs to sell to generate an income as part of the training program in entrepreneurship.
Students attending the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Juba, South Sudan, have received scholarships to help afford their education and continue their studies thanks to funding
from Salesian Missions donors. The scholarships, which are mainly focused on female students, cover 50 percent of the school’s tuition, making it much easier for young women to gain an education.
One student, Ayany Pamela, said, “This program has given me the courage to return to school after completing my secondary education. I had not been able to continue in school because of financial problems. After noticing that women were given this opportunity, I became motivated because it is now affordable for me. This program has contributed much in my personal life by allowing me to obtain knowledge and skills. Without it, I cannot imagine how I would have continued my education or found a good job.”
John Garry, a teacher at the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center, noted that the center and education provided have played a role in transforming the lives of youth in many ways. He said, “One of the good things I have seen since I joined the center in 2015 is the 50 percent school fees discount/scholarships offered to female students. This has encouraged more young women to gain an education. It has also encouraged families, who typically don’t value education for girls, to send their daughters to school.”
Bosco Global, a Spanish Salesian organization, with the support of the Municipality of Malaga, operates the Foyer Jean XXIII Education and Formation Center in Kara, Togo. This center provides education and support to 183 youth at risk of social exclusion.
The center ensures youth gain an education and find and retain employment. Most of the youth in the program have dropped out of school, but they are now taking courses and workshops in cooking/pastry making and cutting and sewing. Once they complete the courses, youth receive a diploma recognized by the state that facilitates entry into the job market.
The center also adapts its courses to the needs of students and the local economy, ensuring that youth have access to the internships and apprenticeships they need to apply the skills they learned in the classroom.
In Kara, many youth do not have access to education, and youth unemployment is very high. Most young people have unskilled jobs and precarious working conditions, which makes them even more vulnerable. Salesian education is sometimes the only education they are able to access to become productive members of their community.
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