Chapter 2

General Training Methodology

2.1 General knowledge on competences that need to be enhanced among young people to increase their employment possibilities

Constant changes and the extremely fast development of digital technologies are the reality within which young people have to find their way today. Youth work must be ready to meet these needs. Especially given that in some places the formal education system is not able to keep up with the rapidly changing trends on the digital market. Schools should teach the ability to search, verify, critically assess and rank the value of information. This general competence is the foundation of all digital skills. The generation now entering the labour market was born and raised in the connected world of the Internet, so they do not know the reality in which people functioned and coped without it. This is the fundamental difference between the young generation and the generation of their teachers or parents. Young people may think that thanks to the Internet and the vast access they have in the digital area, they have a great knowledge of the world and the competences that are needed to function well in this world. However, the job market discredits this perception. Very often it turns out that young people lack competences that are seen by employers as essential in the workplace. The role of educators is to effectively help young people acquire the right skills and knowledge. The use of digital technologies and tools is extremely useful and even necessary in today’s world.

The research showed that young people use the Internet as the main source of knowledge and communication.  They draw knowledge from tutorials and courses on YouTube. But at the same time there was almost no mention of online dictionaries or encyclopaedias (even Wikipedia). The websites and applications used in the school learning process mentioned by the group we surveyed present rather ready-made, reproducible solutions and young people use them on a ‘copy/paste’ basis. The Youth interviews and focus-groups also showed that there is room for youth organisations and youth workers to work with this; young people want to improve their digital competences, and for example in Poland schools/formal education do not provide them with such opportunity in any way. The employers we surveyed listed universal competences that a young employee should possess: responsibility, attention to detail, communication, openness to people, an adequate assessment of their own skills, as well as readiness to learn and use digital technology. The respondents pointed out that most important is the ability to use technology to develop one’s own ideas and solve problems, as well as being able to find valuable sources and information. What is also important is the ability to present one’s arguments in a concise and attractive format for which digital tools are also very useful. The respondent employers assessed that young people are poorly prepared to act in these areas.

According to the P21’s Framework for 21st Century Learning (Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2002), there are 3 key skills areas, being critical to ensure 21st century readiness for every student;

  • Life and Career skills,
  • Learning and Innovation skills,
  • Information, Media & Technology skills.

P21’s Frameworks for 21st Century Learning were developed with input from teachers, education experts, and business leaders to define and illustrate the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in work and life, as well as the support systems necessary for 21st century learning outcomes. They have been used by thousands of educators and hundreds of schools in the U.S. and abroad to put 21st century skills at the center of learning. It is „a unified vision for learning to ensure student success in a world where change is constant and learning never stops”.

The following Training Tools provides teaching tools for youth work practice in 7 selected competences. The selection was based on P21’s Framework and “Skill IT for Youth” research findings, referring not only to the needs of young people but also to employers’ expectations. All competences mentioned in the research studies from all countries were described, using the definitions from P21 Framework. The competences belong to all 3 groups of skills: Life and Career, Learning and Innovation, Information, Media & Technology skills.

  1. Creativity & Innovation defined as:
    • Think Creatively
      • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
      • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
      • Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts
    • Work Creatively with Others
      • Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively
      • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work
      • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas
      • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes
    • Implement Innovations
      • Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur
  2. Communication defined as Communicate Clearly
    • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts
    • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions
    • Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade)
    • Utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their effectiveness a priori as well as assess their impact
    • Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multi-lingual)
  3. Collaboration and Teamwork defined as Collaborate with Others:
    • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
    • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
    • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member
  4. Productivity and Accountability defined as:
    • Manage Projects
      • Set and meet goals, even in the face of obstacles and competing pressures
      • Prioritize, plan and manage work to achieve the intended result
    • Produce Results
      • Demonstrate additional attributes associated with producing high quality products including the abilities to:
      • Work positively and ethically
      • Manage time and projects effectively
      • Multi-task
      • Participate actively, as well as be reliable and punctual
      • Present oneself professionally and with proper etiquette
      • Collaborate and cooperate effectively with teams
      • Respect and appreciate team diversity
      • Be accountable for results
  5. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving defined as Reason Effectively
    • Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation
    • Use Systems Thinking
    • Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems
    • Make Judgments and Decisions
    • Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs
    • Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view
    • Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments
    • Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis
    • Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes
    • Solve Problems
    • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
    • Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions
  6. Information Literacy defined as: Access and Evaluate Information
    • Access information efficiently (time) and effectively (sources)
    • Evaluate information critically and competently
    • Use and Manage Information
    • Use information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand
    • Manage the flow of information from a wide variety of sources
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information
  7. Media Literacy defined as: Analyse Media
    • Understand both how and why media messages are constructed, and for what purposes
    • Examine how individuals interpret messages differently, how values and points of view are included or excluded, and how media can influence beliefs and behaviours
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of media
    • Create Media Products
    • Understand and utilize the most appropriate media creation tools, characteristics and conventions
    • Understand and effectively utilize the most appropriate expressions and interpretations in diverse, multi-cultural environments

It is worth mentioning that Critical Thinking and Problem Solving was ranked the highest in all stakeholders groups and in all countries. The other competences were ranked close to each other.

In the Training Toolkit we present ideas on how to work with young people in order to enhance these 7 competences using digital tools and resources. Supporting young people in developing these competences is not anything new for experienced youth workers. Many methods have been developed and used to approach young people to equip them with knowledge, skills and attitudes needed in the environment. What we propose in this Training Toolkit is a digital perspective on well-known competences. We invite you to enrich your activities using tools and resources that new technology brings to the learning process. We strongly believe that blending these two factors will be beneficial for young people on the threshold of a professional career.

Apart from the workshops’ scenarios, as a part of Skill IT for Youth project, we also developed the Competence Framework for Digital Youth Work Practice, where each competence is presented with its indicators of Knowledge, Skills, Attitude and Behaviour. This document is meant for youth workers to check which competences they may need to acquire in order to make the work with young people more effective and valuable to the new digital generation, and then assess these competences and even make plans for their own improvement. You can find this document here.