Celebrating skills for resilient youth this World Youth Skills Day

14 July 2020

Fakahoko, a Tongan person, in front of the community hall where he teaches singing and dancing

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.

This year’s World Youth Skills Day takes place at a particularly challenging time. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures have led to the closure of many TVET institutions, affecting the world’s learners and threatening the continuity of skills development.

At Scope Global, we are committed to facilitating inclusive growth and skills development for youth. Our team manages a number of Australian Government funded programs that recognise the value of skills development and create opportunities for all people, and especially youth, to participate equally.

The following stories from Kiribati and Tonga give a glimpse into our work in supporting and strengthening young people’s skills and preparing them for employment.

 

Kiribati: Adapting learning approaches for I-Kiribati youth

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government of Kiribati’s subsequent temporary closure of learning institutions for students, the Kiribati Institute of Technology (KIT) accelerated the development of its flexible learning approaches in April and May this year. This saw it launch its online learning platform and by the end of semester one, all of KIT’s courses had introduced a dedicated online or flexible component.

6 KIT staff learning Kiri Sign in a classroom

KIT staff learning Kiri Sign Language

KIT’s rapid adaption in the face of global events meant that its students, of which a large cohort are I-Kiribati youth aged between 16 and 24 years, were able to experience continuity in their skills training programs. As part of its response, KIT also put in place measures to support students to access hardcopy learning resources where they were not able to access online learning. Internet access is expensive and can be difficult to access in the atoll nation.

Twenty-one of KIT’s employees took advantage of the school closure to learn Kiri-Sign Language to increase their ability to communicate with Deaf and/or hard of hearing students. This was another step in demonstrating KIT’s commitment to making the institute accessible and accessible to all I-Kiribati.

Fortunately, the school has now been able to re-open. This has provided continuity to students and youth who showed enormous resilience and adaptability during the pandemic – and who are eager to further their skills and prepare for employment.

The Kiribati Institute of Technology is supported by the Australian Government funded Kiribati Facility, which encompasses the Skills for Employment Program and aims to increase equitable participation of youth aged 16 to 24 year in skills development programs.

KIT, now in its 50th year, is uniquely positioned to contribute to the social and economic stability in Kiribati. It works with local ministries to create a resilient youth through skills education and a flexible response to labour market demand for employment opportunities.

 

Tonga: Musician becomes his own boss after participating in employability training

Two dancers in traditional Tongan dress

Fakahoko and the Silapeluua Singing and Dance Academy perform at the marking of ‘White Ribbon Day’ in Tonga

Mr Fakahoko Taufa is a talented young musician, composer and dancer, and has been performing traditional Tongan song and dance for over 15 years. His love of music led him to study music and in early 2019 he graduated from the Tupou Tertiary Institute with a Diploma in Music Level 6. However, Fakahoko found himself struggling to find a suitable job and with few prospects to enable him to earn a living.

“At the end of high school, the usual employment opportunities for someone with an interest in music were either to become a teacher or be recruited as a police officer in order to join their brass band. I did not want to do either,” said Fakahoko.

In 2019, Fakahoko heard about the four-day ‘Employability and Work Ethics’ training, a collaboration between Tonga Skills, the Youth of Ha’ateiho and Matala Training and Learning Solutions. He joined the course along with 21 other young unemployed members of the community.

Through the training, Fakahoko gained skills in interview techniques, communication, teamwork and resume writing to help address some of the barriers to employment.

The course was a great inspiration to Fakahoko and he was motivated to start his own business. “After seeing a great number of unemployed youth in our society, I was moved to form the dance group so that they could join and better use their time,” he said.

With support and encouragement from the training provider, he opened the Silapeluua Singing and Dance Academy.

The academy quickly attracted children and adults from all over Tongatapu to learn a variety of dance styles from the Pacific and abroad, singing and other musical art forms. The initial enrolment of 36 students grew to 86 students in the academy’s second semester.

Fakahoko and the Silapeluua Singing and Dance Academy were invited to perform at half-time during an international rugby union home game between the national team ‘Ikale Tahi and the visiting ‘Western Force’ of Australia. Their performance led to more requests to perform at various functions including the Tano’a Dateline Hotel every time there is an ‘island buffet’ night.

Fakahoko has every reason to be optimistic as business has continued to grow. “As business picks up next year, I hope to build a studio to call our own and free up the community hall that we are currently using,” he said.

 

Scope Global manages the Kiribati Facility and Tonga Skills on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

 

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