Are Afterschool Programs a Necessity to Equip Youth with Tech Career Skills?


Weren’t we a lot more confused about our career decisions right after our high school?

How often did you feel that, all that you wanted at that point of time was the right career guidance and mentoring to help you get rid of the ‘Big Confusion’ and select an apt career decision for yourself? Here lies the most important element of our topic of discussion in this piece.

Concepts such like after school programs are no new concepts but, there lies the twist. After School Programs, today, do not just imply getting enrolled to a program to pass time rather than wasting it. Joining one of these programs have become more than a need today and why is it so?

It is vital to note that, students need more than a strong curriculum, good teacher and time to succeed. So opting for one of quality afterschool programs ain’t just a great idea but an awesome one!

Hearing on afterschool programs, it is important to first clear off the misconception that afterschool program is just about keeping kids safe. No, afterschool programs is in fact more than that as, today it is at the cutting edge of combining education and youth development, creating programs that children want to attend-where hands-on, fun creative learning takes place with a certain amount of norm.

In fact, many think rather than spending too much time in traditional class, it is better to opt for a traditional class because- after school programs have the ability and flexibility to be creative and provide individualized learning. A student might learn engineering principles by building a rollercoaster; pick up chemistry lessons by working in a forensic lab, or master fractions and decimals in a baseball game.

Afterschool programs help students build up their skills and best of all, it offers an access to tutors and mentors who can work with them individually or in small groups to focus on challenges and do better along with core curriculum work. Instances of how students get a better direction to their career in technology and that in other engineering field after joining an after school program are many.

After school programs enhance workplace skills and includes in most of the cases-job shadowing, mentoring, youth employment, internships and other experiences that incorporate real-world experience and community involvement.

To get a better picture of it a piece by the education week captured a real instance of a young student joining a program organized by the not-for-profit organization in New York and reading which one gets a clear picture of how afterschool programs can actually help develop 21’st century skills, while also exploring career interests. You may read the interesting story by clicking here.

What was interestingly pointed out in the piece is that, Programs such like ACE are part of a growing interest in career and technical education. Such programs allow students to-

  1. Absorb the right job skills &
  2. Try on careers to evaluate if they fit; without affecting their regular studies
  3. Gather knowledge on most demanding skills that employers want
  4. Get an entry-level to see how industry work execution takes up
  5. Understand the real relevance of words like deadlines and team work in projects
  6. Exposure to varied level of experiences and understand one’s job roles with precision

In another piece, titled- ‘Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool’ a significant point to note down is that skills and experiences most wanted to build and vibrant workforce in the 21st century is largely missing out in today’s youth because simply relying upon traditional degrees or curriculum studies does not assist in building skills in students. In order to acquire workforce skills, real world experience and community involvement holds much importance and which is not possible to create within a classroom set-up or one and two industry visits for practical exposure.

Some Workforce skills that are most demanded by employers today and which can be learned about and sharpened through practical exposure are better summed in the pic below.

are-afterschool-programs-needed-for-youth

Figure1 first appeared here

The skill gap issue is visibly surfacing out across the world and is the biggest challenge for small and rural communities. Jobs opportunities are not scarce but adequate skills to fill up those attractive job opportunities are scarce. Taking such into consideration, modern day quality afterschool programs have the potential to provide a space where young people can develop necessary 21st century skills and also know which career to pursue as per their individual strengths.

Snippets of Various Reports on Afterschool Programs

Leaders across the world have realised it fast that the key element to address poverty is access to education and jobs. By upgrading the quality of afterschool programs, it is indeed creating good possibilities for the young people of Umatilla, Oregon United states get an access to education and good job options. Details of such fact obtained from a report published by the National League of Cities.

In another report published by the Asia Society, there has been a mention of similar fact that ‘afterschool programs develop college and career readiness.’ In this report one learns that at Ignite Afterschool- an afterschool network in Minnesota, United States, they are training students to become future ready by ensuring that all young people have an access to high-quality summer learning opportunities and afterschool programs. Through these programs, students’ not only sharpen workforce skills but it also Sparks and sustains student’s interest in STEM subjects and careers. This initiative is welcome step and also a widely accepted one because it narrows the gap in educational outcomes between low-income and high-income youth and helps raise young students’ educational aspirations.

Further, in another report titled- Boys & Girls Clubs of America- Advancing Underrepresented Youth In Stem During Out-of-school Time, there is a mention about ‘Great Future Campaign’ that targets to redefine the opportunity equation that of school +out-of-school for students in order to create a great future for the budding generation. The goal of this campaign is to also address upon the opportunity gap in STEM education as they lead to a vast inequity of resources.

Through research findings, it has come to light that after school and summer learning actually helps to advance STEM Knowledge and increase interest in STEM-related Careers. Thus, with this, we end the discussion and would leave our reader with a question- Don’t you think, afterschool programs should become qualitative in nature across the world and awareness about it, go viral?

What is your take on it? Do let us know on it, through your valuable comments and if you feel we have missed out anything relevant to our topic of discussion, feel free to point that too in your comments.

About the Author
Author: Ananya DebroyWebsite: http://edtechreview.in
Ananya is currently working as the Content Manager at EdTechReview. She has a keen interest in Ed Tech and the ways in which it is strengthening the education sector as a whole. She is an avid reader and loves to meet relevant people & unleash new updates on various innovations in the EdTech world as it indirectly helps her pen down well-researched blogs on the niche. Follow her @AnanyaDebRoy

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