Skills to Pay the Bills is a career and workforce readiness soft skills curriculum, published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). It was designed and piloted with the consultation of 100 youth. It is intended for youth service professionals, especially those who work with in-school and out-of-school youth ages 1421, in the United States. The materials are meant to be incorporated into existing curricula and/or programs, and adapted to the youth they serve. Following research on what employers need most in terms of skills and work readiness, six main skills/knowledge areas were identified for the manualcommunication; enthusiasm & attitude; teamwork; networking; problem solving & critical thinking; and professionalism. Information and activities are provided for each of these thematic areas.
The thematic areas are each presented with a page or two of general information on the theme, some notes to the facilitator, and five activities. These activites are laid out including the following:
Typically, at the end of the activity are materials for the activity such as scenarios, role-play descriptions, questions, etc. The end of the manual contains some information on the the do’s and don’ts of social networking and links to other useful resources.
During development, the curriculum was reviewed at pilot test sites. The curriculum was subsequently adjusted based on comments. The curriculum was tested and reviewed at FSW, Inc., WorkSkills (Bridgeport, Conn.), High School/High Tech (Madison, Fla.), KentuckianaWorks Youth Center (Louisville, Ky.), Massachusetts Migrant Education Program (Wilmington and Boston, Mass.), Project SEARCH (Washington, D.C.), Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (Denver, Colo.), and WorkSource/YouthSource (Renton, Wash.).
Skills to Pay the Bills is a very practical training guide with many adaptable activities that can be used in a variety of settings. With a very visual, neatly laid out, consistent format, the manual is very user-friendly. Useful suggestions are provided on how to vary some activities, depending on the group of youth one is working with. The activities take into account what the learners already know based on their past experiences, and build off of this. Furthermore, the activities are participatory, engaging, and variedall necessary when working with youth.
The manual could be strengthened by having more clearly defined competency/skill-based objectives , particularly since the manual is written in response to the identified needs of employers. For each of the five activities, it would be helpful to see in a more detailed way, the competency, skills, and knowledge areas being addressed. That could be useful to both the trainers and learners so they can gauge progress being made.
While the manual could be used in an international setting, it would take some work to adapt it. Most of the scenarios, examples, etc., are very United States-based. For example, the activity about successes and failures gives examples of American sports players, television/movie producers, scientists, et al. The participatory nature of the activities, however, can be used anywhere. The manual has a lot of active, hands-on, engaging activities that seem like they will keep youth interested and engaged.
While in some lessons the content of this curriculum is thin, in others it is well-developed. If this curriculum were to be used internationally, particularly in poor countries, some of the lessons would not be relevant, and some would need major adaptation. In some places more content, advice, and information would be needed that could not just be elicited from young people who have little or no work experience. For example, the “Flipping the Switch” lesson is presumably about appropriate ways to communicate in the working world but assumes that the youth already understand the differences between this kind of communication and communication with friends and family. In many contexts, however, in the United States and elsewhere, youth who have never had experience in the wage economy, and whose family members also have not had this experience, don’t really understand the differences and don’t know what is or isn’t appropriate or expected. There may need to be some direct instruction provided.
The amount of time needed for each lesson in some cases is greatly underestimated, especially for lessons that are described as being under 30 minutes. This cannot include the time needed for journaling and for extensions of the activity.
Because this is contextualized for the United States, often resources are taken for grantedsuch as certain kinds of materials and supplies, and access by youth to the Internetthat are frequently not available to youth in poor or developing countries. Perhaps the best use of these lessons is to follow the guideline suggested by the authors; to incorporate lessons that are relevant and easily adapted into an existing work readiness curriculum.
The Tips for Improving Access to This Curriculum for All Youth section (in the Introduction) has some especially useful ideas that may not always be considered in curriculum design, for example, activities such as journaling and drawing, the advice to “Presume competence and instill confidence,” and active thinking about making accommodations. There's a list of some typical accommodations for reading, writing, audio/visual communication, math, and organizational skills. This would be a good place to begin to help awaken facilitators to the need for accommodations and universal design in any culture.
U.S. Department of Labor
The Rwandan Youth Work Readiness Curriculum was created in 2010 by the Akazi Kanoze Youth Livelihoods Project, sponsored by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). It is intended for Rwandans ages 14–24, especially for out-of-school youth. Although it assumes that participants have at least functional literacy, it has been offered to youth who have various levels of education, from P4 completers to university graduates. It has been used for in-school youth in the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system and has been provided by youth-serving organizations, private sector companies with a program for youth employment, and by the Workforce Development Authority (Government of Rwanda, TVET agency). The curriculum includes eight modules that, taken together, enable a complete three-month course. (The length of the course depends on how many hours per week of instruction are offered.) The modules could also be used separately or in various combinations.
The curriculum is learner-centered and engaging: The modules’ learning activities include role plays, case studies/scenarios, simulations, pair share and pair work, small-group work, and brainstorming, among other strategies. Each module begins with a self-assessment and ends with a quiz to give the learner an opportunity to assess and reflect on his or her experiences and skills. Activities often start by having participants reflect on something from their lives, and build upon that. There are end-of-module and end-of-course assessments. The curriculum is accompanied by a trainer’s manual. Each module has two to four sessions, depending on the number of topics that need to be covered, with three to six activities per session. Each module contains the following:
1. Personal Development: identifying values & interests; assessing attributes & skills; identifying learning styles & learning strategies; goal setting, planning, & tracking progress
2. Interpersonal Communication: speaking and listening; following and giving instructions and feedback; forms of communication in the workplace; cooperating/working as a team member; providing good customer service
3. Work Habits and Conduct: identifying and applying for jobs (writing applications, CVs, cover letters, thank you letters); interviewing; workplace behaviors and attitudes; time management; balancing work and home life
4. Leadership: characteristics of an effective leader; leadership styles; organizing and motivating others; team building; leading others in problem solving and conflict resolution
5. Safety and Health at Work: Rwanda health and safety laws and practices; identifying and avoiding hazards in the workplace; responding to emergencies and accidents; basic first aid; healthy lifestyles; stress management
6. Worker and Employer Rights and Responsibilities: Rwandan labor code; workers’ rights: benefits and labor laws
7. Financial Literacy: managing money; saving; budgeting; how financial institutions work; making financial decisions
8. Market Literacy: the cycle of business; entrepreneurship skills; planning for unexpected events; financial record-keeping; marketing; negotiating; adding value to products
No formal evaluation results available
Review 1 The Rwandan Youth Work Readiness Curriculum is a well-designed, attractive, user-friendly workforce readiness curriculum for out-of-school youth and adults. Although made for Rwanda, it would not be difficult to adapt it for other sub-Saharan African countries, and perhaps countries in other parts of the world. One of its strengths is that it does not require a high level of literacy and numeracy. It is clearly and simply written, includes lots of very helpful tools for teachers, and employs activities that are engaging but easily implemented with relatively little teacher training. The curriculum is basic and does not attempt to deal with career planning, the more sophisticated and difficult parts of the entrepreneurship process such as micro-loans, or with hard training skills. It provides opportunities, however, to reinforce basic skills in reading and writing as well as to learn new so-called soft skills needed for work.
The Rwandan Youth Work Readiness Curriculum is a holistic, foundational course that prepares Rwandan youth for their entry or re-entry into the workforce. It covers a wide range of topics from preparing a CV to financial planning to understanding the Rwandan labor code. The curriculum empowers youth by fully engaging them in the learning process and giving them the opportunity to learn-by-doing and practice using new skills in a safe environment. Although some of the modules cover complex concepts, the curriculum effectively engages learners by using a participatory learning methodology that makes the material accessible and immediately relevant to the learners’ lives.
Activities are designed for learners with varying learning styles and preferences such as self-reflection, group work, role plays, guest speakers, field trips, games, and written self-reflection. The learning objectives are clearly stated at the beginning of each module and activity, and progress in achieving those objectives can be assessed using the tools provided in the curriculum. Specifically, facilitators can assess learners’ progress through the use of tests that appear at the end of every module, as well as by reviewing the self-assessment chart that learners fill out in their workbooks.
The curriculum is very effective and has few weaknesses. One small criticism is that the facilitator guide provides a step-by-step process for leading the activities that appear in the curriculum, but it is missing a thorough explanation of the curriculum methodology. Although it might be immediately obvious to experienced trainers, trainers who are not accustomed to using participatory techniques may struggle with some of the activities or skip them entirely. The facilitator guide could be enhanced by providing some background information about the methodology, the “why” behind using it, and how the methodology informs the activities in the curriculum.
Another minor weakness of the curriculum is that some of the activities require a significant amount of preparation and materials, which some facilitators may not have time to do and/or have access to. It might be useful to include some options for the facilitator. For example, if an activity calls for the facilitator to bring in pictures of great leaders, a tip to facilitators might be that if it is not possible to bring in pictures, to ask students to draw pictures of leaders.
International Technical Advisor II
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
The Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook is part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program offered in the United States and in Belgium, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa. The textbook targets youth, ages 15–18, from low-income and at-risk communities. The curriculum is intended to be used in schools and in community-based organizations.
The curriculum covers concepts related to starting, operating, and exiting a small business; reinforces math, reading, and writing; and develops skills in critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. Some secondary school, and functional reading, writing, and numeracy skills are recommended for those who use it. Photographs in the textbook communicate that the program is intended for young women and men, people who are physically challenged, people of color as well as Caucasians, and people from a range of different cultures. The textbook is intended to help young people who have not created a business to understand what types of skills and knowledge are needed to run a business, and what possible opportunities exist for them.
NFTE offers a teacher textbook to accompany the student textbook; it provides lesson plans, pacing guides, and more. Although not required in order to use the textbook, a three-day teacher training is available on how to implement the program, of which the textbook is an important part. Participants in the training receive lesson plans, teaching slide show presentations, pacing guides, classroom posters, and more to use in their programs. The training is conducted by NFTE master trainers.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) textbook contains eight modules focusing on different facets of entrepreneurship; each module is broken into chapters that are further divided into sections. The modules are as follows:
1. What is an Entrepreneur?
2. Preparing for Business
3. Opportunity Recognition and Market Analysis
4. Marketing Plan and Sales
5. Analyzing Finances
6. Starting Your Business
7. Managing Your Business
8. Growing Your Business
Each section of the textbook has objectives defined in terms of what learners will be able to do; most are observable or measurable. The assessments ("Check your Understanding" and "Assessment" sections), however, focus on understanding of content (concepts, vocabulary, facts, or information presented), not on what the entrepreneur will be able to do. The sequencing is from more general knowledge about economics and business to the details of running a small business.
No formal evaluation results available
The Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook covers a wide array of topics related to entrepreneurship, from the big picture (what is entrepreneurship?) to the very detailed (tax implications and government regulations). The curriculum is comprehensive, covering essential knowledge that a young person interested in starting a business will need to know. Throughout the course, learners are asked to develop their own personal business plan. They can fill in the information either using a student workbook (paper) or by using the BizTech software (electronic). The textbook includes prompts for the learners when and what they should fill in based on where they are in the textbook.Another useful feature of the curriculum is a case study of a young woman that follows her challenges and successes starting, growing, and eventually leaving a catering business she started in high school. The case studies help tie together the chapters and provide learners of real examples of how a young person applies the topics included in the text to her professional life. The curriculum was updated in 2010 and the material is up-to-date and it makes use of recent examples. The format will be familiar to the learners and teachers, as the curriculum is a traditional textbook used in the U.S.A weakness of the curriculum is that it covers such a wide range of topics that it might be overwhelming to the learner. While NFTE uses textboxes, graphics, reading checkpoints, and mini-assessments throughout, it is still quite text heavy. To make the most of the curricular material, the learners need to have strong reading skills and relatively strong math skills in order to fully grasp it. If the learners are at-risk or coming from low income communities and do not have a strong academic background, they may find the material to be too complex. Also, the fact that the curriculum is in a textbook may be a deterrent to learners who have not been successful in a traditional, school environment and may be turned off thinking this is just another class.These challenges can be overcome based on the strength of the facilitator. It is imperative that the lesson plans used in conjunction with the text help engage learners, especially those with different learning needs and learning styles. The teacher guide was not submitted for this review, but it would likely provide guidance on how to address these issues.The version of the textbook reviewed is written for a U.S. audience. All of the examples are based in the U.S. and some of the topics, such as taxes and government regulations are particular to the U.S. It would need significant adaptation to be used with different audiences, especially for developing countries where the examples and activities may not be relevant to their specific contexts.
The content of the Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook is well designed, attractive, and written clearly and appealingly. The format is very well organized, user-friendly and with inviting photographs and illustrations. A teacher would need to have a background in starting successful small businesses, however, or to be matched with an entrepreneur in a team-teaching situation. In poor countries successful entrepreneurs may not necessarily handle the level of English reading required by this textbook.
The textbook sequence is logical for a classroom of young people who have not yet started businesses, but those who might be seeking solutions to their immediate problems managing or expanding their existing business, might be impatient with this and want to begin to address their immediate needs. The textbook may have useful information for them but would need to be tailored to their needs by a skilled entrepreneurship teacher.
The three–sixth month program is described as using an experiential/learning by doing approach including games, activities and events. There are some activities included in the textbook itself, often as part of the assessment, in a section called Working Together. The first 14 chapters of the textbook are to help the participant to put together a business plan. A helpful table is included (pages 144–145) on what parts of the textbook will help to develop a standard or an advanced business plan.
Much would need to be changed in order to use this in a non-western, and especially poor or underdeveloped country where a lot of the (Internet, training and other) resources taken for granted in this textbook are not available. It would be a useful reference upon which to draw, however, in a wide range of entrepreneurial contexts.
A Microenterprise Training Guidefor Peace Corps Volunteers is a training curriculum to enable pre- and in-service Peace Corps volunteers to better understand and provide business services to people who wish to start or expand small (including one-person) businesses in developing countries. The curriculum is specifically geared toward volunteers who will be assisting microfinance institutions in the delivery of microfinance and related social business development services, and it introduces volunteers to concepts, practices, and methodologies surrounding microfinance and microenterprise. In addition, the curriculum provides recommendations for activities volunteers might engage in to learn more about these topics, as well as how they might contribute by providing training or coaching to microentrepreneurs in their host communities. The curriculum also includes specific suggestions and examples for tailoring it to a particular country and community.
A Microenterprise Training Guideis designed to be self-instructional (with assistance from a technical trainer), or used in group face-to-face (or online) instruction. It begins with an introduction that briefly explains why the Peace Corps works with microentrepreneurs, as well as recommendations for how Peace Corps volunteers (the learners) should use the curriculum. Most learners will use it as a self-guided course rather than something that will be used in a classroom or workshop setting. It concludes with an explanation of the experiential learning cycle and encourages the learners to look for opportunities to apply what they learn to their experiences. The curriculum includes five modules after the introduction: 1. An Effective Poverty-Reduction Strategy, which builds the case for why micro-enterprise is a good option for development, stressing the importance of gender considerations. 2. Microfinance Methods, which explores individual and group savings/credit schemes and types of lenders typically found in communities. 3. Operating a Microfinance Institution discusses how individuals and microentrepreneurs choose microfinance institutions and products. 4. Non-Financial Business Development Services, which explains the basics for developing a business development services training plan and walks through the steps for developing training sessions. 5. Business Counselor and Extensionist explains the differences between the role of a counselor vs. a consultant or adviser and proposes that the learner take on the role as the former, taking cultural differences into account. Each module includes a Technical Trainer’s Notes section that provides guidance on how the materials can be used in small-group training. This section also includes a list of definitions for the terms used in the module (with a space for the learners to write in the corresponding word in the local language), as well as a list of resources with brief descriptions.
No formal evaluation results available
The strengths of the Microenterprise Training Guide are that it is written for a generalist who may be new to micro-enterprise development and that the curriculum can be used by an individual at a distance as well as by groups of trainees. It is participatory and engaging with lots of hands-on assignments. It draws on and references many good activities and resources developed by others. In addition, the curriculum has content that might be used by microenterprise trainers in other contexts, but these modules or activities would need to be carefully re-purposed, not just lightly adapted. One weakness is that there is not much content in the module on nonfinancial business development services, an area where self-employed people and entrepreneurs often need very specific help. For example, someone using this guide would not learn how to help someone do a market analysis, set a price point for a product.This guide is not intended as training materials for entrepreneurs or for others engaged in small business or self employment; rather, it is a training manual for Peace Corps Volunteers who will be helping them. While this is a good introduction, and there are many useful materials for Peace Corps Volunteers who offer business services in their communities, someone who had no other training might not find this sufficient. With a fair amount of additional work, this could be adapted for orientation/initial training for others who provide these business services.
The Microenterprise Training Guide for Peace Corps Volunteers provides a primer about micro-finance and microenterprise for community development Volunteers. The curriculum material and activities are designed for individuals with very little, or no, knowledge of microfinance or microentrepreneurship. The introduction provides an overview of how the material is supposed to be used and the principles behind it, specifically, the experiential learning cycle. Sharing this information is useful because the majority of learners will use the curriculum as a self-guided tool. It is also useful to have a detailed list of references at the end of the modules, so the learners know where they can find more information on a given topic.
Another strength of the curriculum is the range of activities it provides, from self-reflective exercises such as surveys that explore the learners’ attitudes on micro-finance to field visits to local micro-finance institutions in the community to help understand the products and services provided and gain a better sense of what is available in the local market. Several of the modules begin with a brief anecdote about other community development activities Peace Corps Volunteers have done in their communities, which helps ground the material with practical examples.
A weakness of the curriculum is that there appear to be missing links between the information and activities, and what the relevance is to the learners’ community development projects. It is not clear how the learners are supposed to apply the learning contained in the curriculum in their communities and it would be useful if the take-aways from the activities were explicitly stated.
Although this curriculum is called “A Microenterprise Training Guide”, it is designed for Volunteers who will be providing business development services in their communities as well as Volunteers who will be working with micro-finance institutions. While it may be useful to know about both, most of the activities and information included in Module 3: Operating a Microfinance Institution would have little relevance for a Volunteer who is working with microenterprises (for example, knowing the organizational structure of a Microfinance Institution). In this same module, however, there is a section on “Local Microenterprises” and an activity called “Getting to Know Microentrepreneurs” which a) is out of place with the rest of the module and b) is not necessarily relevant to Volunteers working with microfinance institutions. The curriculum would therefore be strengthened if it were to be split into two separate guides. Finally, written in 2003, the curriculum needs to be updated to reflect relevant statistics and references, as well as new terminology used with more recent information on microenterprise.
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The Peace Corps Life Skills Manual is a comprehensive behavior change approach that concentrates on developing the skills needed for life, such as communication, decision-making, and critical thinking. It also helps learners understand the importance of assertiveness, self-esteem, resisting peer pressure, and creating healthy relationships. Additionally, it addresses the important related issues of empowering girls and guiding boys toward new values. The program moves beyond providing information. It addresses the development of the whole individual, including their health—so that a person will have the skills to make use of all types of information, whether it be related to reproductive and sexual health, safe motherhood, and other communication and decision-making situations. While the focus is on health, the life skills are relevant to those found in work readiness curricula and could be adapted for other purposes.
This manual consists of more than 50 different interactive lesson ideas, using role plays, games, puzzles, group discussions, and a variety of other innovative teaching techniques to keep the participant fully involved in the sessions. Lessons include HIV/AIDS training sessions that are particularly useful in working with youth and other vulnerable groups. The manual is meant to be adapted to different situations and recommends that a community assessment be done first to determine the needs of the community.
The intended audience is Peace Corps Volunteers (e.g., health workers or teachers) and their local partners who work with male and female youth or adults (teachers, health workers, parents, community volunteers, youth leaders, peer educators, etc.). The focus is on health. sexuality, communication, and decision-making skills. The targeted participants or beneficiaries are youth 13–28, with little to no schooling, in-school youth, or members of out-of-school or afterschool organizations such as anti-AIDS clubs, girls clubs, boys clubs, youth organizations, women's groups, etc.
The manual includes an introduction, tips on conducting a community needs assessment, a Training of Trainers sample five-day schedule, and lesson plans, including objectives, activities, and evaluations for 50 sessions (activities). An appendix includes specific activities for ice breakers and breaks and some assessment instruments.Sections include the following:
A typical use of the manual in a Life Skills Training of Trainers model is for 5 full days, although this depends on the purpose and audience. The curriculum includes suggestions on how to tailor this to audiences such as Peace Corps Volunteers in pre-service training; community leaders; peer educators; and for a basic introduction or briefing on what a Life Skills approach should be.
No formal evaluation results available
The strengths of the Peace Corps Life Skills Manual include its availability in multiple languages including Spanish, French and Swahili as well as English. In addition, every lesson offers specific, behaviorally-stated learning objectives although these are not always directly measured in the evaluation section of the lesson. The manual is designed to build on facilitators’ existing knowledge and skills, for example through brainstorming; role plays; scenarios; paired, small group and large group discussion; low-stakes initial assessments of knowledge; games and simulations; and reflection. The format is also clear and useful. The photographs are very attractive, the writing is clear and straightforward. And there are lots of materials included for activities.Weaknesses of the curriculum are that although originally developed in Africa, this manual has been re–edited for global distribution, but without updates since 2001 so there may be a need for review of content, especially in health-related topics such as HIV/AIDS. There is also a heavy reliance in a majority of the topics on health and sexuality decision making. These are, of course, important life skills areas, but this is not a comprehensive life skills curriculum, does not for example, include money management, work readiness, family living and parenting skills, knowledge of good environmental practices, worker rights and responsibilities and other important life skills topics.This Manual would be especially useful for an intensive Training of Trainers whose focus was on enabling youth behavior change in the areas of STDs and decisions around sexuality and relationships.
The Life Skills Manual provides a lot of information and participatory activities to address key life skills topics including HIV/AIDS, communication skills (focusing primarily on assertiveness), decision making skills, and relationship skills. While there is an attempt to build off the existing knowledge of participants as well as concepts introduced in previous lessons, the curriculum feels somewhat disjointed. HIV/AIDS topics figure heavily and could be treated separately in a stand-alone manual. The unit on communication skills focuses primarily on assertiveness instead of opening it up to other forms of communication.
Overall however the manual is user friendly and provides a consistent format. It touches on many topics that are important to youth and presents them through interactive methods that participants will find engaging. Users of the manual might want to develop a more formal way of assessing whether or not the participants have understood the materials and have developed some skills in communication, decision-making and managing relationships.
If the manual is to be used in a “preparing for work” context, the facilitator will need to do some extra work to link the concepts presented here to the work setting. For examples, work-related scenarios and role plays could be integrated into some of the activities, and discussions could be centered on the application of life skills topics in the work environment.
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Market Opportunities: Market Assessment and Value Chain Analysis is designed to help young entrepreneurs "discover market opportunities and business relationships that are critical to sustainable business growth." Developed for youth and young adults who have working business knowledge as well as basic literacy and numeracy skills, the course aims to equip participants with the skills to conduct market assessments and value chain analyses. These skills not only inform participants' own understanding of the context in which business is conducted, but also lead them to identify fresh new business opportunities that are different from what others are doing. Thus, the Market Opportunities curriculum helps young entrepreneurs move away from “copy cat” business ideas. It also develops cross-sectoral business skills and supports development of entrepreneurial life skills such as group work, problem-solving, and articulating a market need or opportunity.
The three modules are (1) Business and Entrepreneurs; (2) Market Assessment and (3) Value Chain Analysis. Each of the 14 activities takes one to two hours to complete, with some activities extending into additional data-gathering time in the community. Materials include:a Facilitators' Guide; laminated activity cards for participants for each of the 14 activities; and additional photo cards and forms used in specific activities. There is no separate participant workbook, though some activity cards do contain space for writing. The format for each activity is fairly consistent. Participants work in small groups to explore concepts, generate information, and analyze and plan, based on the information. During the first module, participants explore various small businesses (through pictures and information on laminated business description cards): their common activities, their common problems, and ways that problems are solved. Participants look at skills of successful entrepreneurs and reflect on their own skills. Module 2 moves into the skills of assessing local markets, with activities on identifying information; asking questions; gathering additional information; preparing for a market assessment; and conducting an assessment in the community. By the time participants complete Module 3, they will know about all the activities that go into making a final product and getting it to market (the value chain); the key players in the value chain; how to identify and analyze the "value" in value chain dynamics; and how to research local opportunities.This course is designed to be highly participatory and participant-led as much as possible. Participants work in groups to complete an activity, using instructions and background information provided on colorful laminated cards. The role of the facilitator is to help groups that may be having difficulty, to coach them through the steps of the activity, to ask questions, help the group reflect and summarize, and in some instances, to introduce new concepts and information. Background information is given in the Facilitator's Guide, to help with groups that may be "stuck" or to help explain concepts and processes that may not be easily understood. In some instances, the facilitator takes notes for the group to use later.
No formal evaluations available
The Market Opportunities course would seem to be appropriate for motivated youth who have some experience with microenterprises and/or local livelihoods, want to strengthen their skills and understanding of business processes, and develop skills in market assessments and value chain analysis. The materials and activities are interesting, useful, and on target. The methodology supports (indeed, is dependent on) the active participation of youth trainees and provides opportunities for direct application of new skills and knowledge.
The Facilitator's Guide provides background information on the concepts and processes associated with market assessments and value chain analyses, but gives little guidance for inexperienced facilitators and group leaders. While not stated, it is assumed that facilitators undergo orientation and training, as there is minimal background on facilitating self-directed, guided learning groups. In the hands of a traditional teacher or inexperienced practitioner, the materials could be turned into facilitator-centered instruction.
Facilitation tips, guidance on how to set up and manage the course, suggestions for follow-up and next steps for participants may be provided by the local sponsoring organization or during a training of facilitators session.
The course materials are up to date, accessible and easily followed. Concepts are explained and unfamiliar words defined, and the writing is fairly simple and straightforward. For participants whose literacy and numeracy skills may not be strong, facilitators are given some guidance on ways to encourage readers to help non-readers, or helping non-writers remember interview questions and answers, etc. For beginning or inexperienced readers, the small font used in the Activity Cards may be a barrier to reading. Indeed, all materials would benefit from a larger font size, and the text in the Facilitators' Guide needs more space between the instructions and suggestions in the Activity Notes. The cards and other resource materials are attractive and "built to last" with heavy-duty lamination.
Depending on the experience and skill levels of participants, during the more complex Activities in Module 3 (Value Chain Analysis), facilitators may need to take a more active role in explaining the instructions and facilitating discussions. Overall, the course promotes development of engaged and self-reliant young people who are informed about markets and market opportunities.
The Making Cents Market Opportunities: Market Assessment and Value Chain Analysis is a good introduction to entrepreneurship as a career option for youth. The curriculum is colorful, interactive, practical and enhances critical thinking for youth with varying degrees of education. The curriculum uses sound teaching practices by providing the facilitator with a brief overview of the lesson, outlining the learning objectives, providing instructions on the material(s) to use, indicating the time required for the lesson and providing activity notes to guide the facilitator through the lesson. The sequencing of the topics is appropriate to generating the learner's thinking about the kinds of business along a business value chain that can be established. The modules start out with engendering the learner to consider themselves as "problem solvers" with the business that they want to create.
The curriculum is solid and facilitates broad-minded thinking with respect to creating a business that could meet the needs of the learner's immediate community or the global community. Examples of this are seen with a number of illustrative stories featured in the curriculum. One of the illustrative examples used is of a farmer in Senegal who sells nuts to a retailer in the UK and has to work hard to ensure that the quality of the nuts meets the standards of the UK retail market. This type of broad-based global thinking is often absent in other entrepreneurship curricula. Another strength is that conceptually, it takes the learner through steps to understanding a complex subject such as value chain analysis and simplifies it with picture cards and interesting stories. A good example of this is the Mutryoshka doll value chain story, that provides further context to the concept of how to create a business in the value-chain continuum.
A weakness of the curriculum is that it tends to oversimplify the complexities of identifying a business to start. The curriculum takes the learner through the motion of identifying a business that addresses a problem but absent from that process is the notion that new business ideas need to be tested. Whilst the concepts of risk-taking is addressed in the curriculum, the curriculum could be strengthened with the introduction of how to conduct a feasibility or risk assessment of one's business idea.
Another area that could be improved is the introduction of important life skills. Since the material is more or less an introduction to entrepreneurship and how to conceptualize one's thinking about the type of business to create, the integration of life-skills into the curriculum would be appropriate and serve to strengthen the curriculum. For example, in the story of a Ugandan farmer named Najja, the problems that he encounters are resolved primarily by bringing other farmers together to discuss their respective challenges in their business. After discussion, the farmers collaboratively determine how best to bring resolution to their problems. Communication, working together, and solving problems collaboratively are fundamental life-skills concepts that could be better captured in the lesson to underscore these important values.
Education Development Center, Inc.'s Cyprus Workforce Initiative for Skills and Education (WISE) project was a one-year pilot project implemented in the Turkish Cypriot community from July 2006 to July 2007. The project aimed to support the education authority's efforts to implement a reform in technical and vocational secondary education through four components: (1) bridging the gap between educational programs and the private sector to make education more demand-driven; (2) developing supplemental curricula modules on work readiness and technical skills to strengthen existing curricula; (3) providing professional development for a group of educators on active teaching skills to shift from a theoretical to a practical and engaging methodology; and (4) increasing awareness of technical and vocational career and livelihood opportunities among parents and students. The curriculum under review is contained within the WISE Final Report as Annex Section B: Developing Curricula for the World of Work.
The material includes a teacher handbook and eight modules, five of which are for student use. Two of the modules are designed to promote career awareness among 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade students: Air Conditioning and Hotel and Hospitality Industry. Three modules are designed for 9th- and 10th-grade students and focus on employability skills: Finding a Job; Interviewing; and Employer Expectations. The student material is “activity-based” and students engage in activities grounded in community work-related situations, including interviews with employers, observation and discussion among themselves, research projects, and the completion of activity sheets and performance assessments, among other assignments that engage students in active learning. Some of the material is designed for the teacher to use with students, and some for direct student use. The Teacher Handbook provides an overview of active learning and how to plan, design and conduct a project.
Cyprus Workforce Initiative for Skills and Education (WISE) Modules:
The material is self-paced and can be used individually or with groups. All five modules for student use follow a similar format: learning objectives are stated, followed by student project activities and teacher activities. Student modules are designed to be completed in about four weeks, but may require additional time.
No formal evaluation results available
Annex Section B: Developing Curricula for the World of Work presents what basically is “standard” career and awareness information that has been available through various sources for over 30 years. What makes these instructional modules different is that they are prepared specifically for the employment environment in the Turkish Cypriot Community. Also what sets these materials off from more conventional materials is that they are “project” or “activity-based.” Student learning takes place through interaction with the employment community and students actively engage in investigating and completing various assignments, either individually or in groups. A modularized, self-paced, project-based approach is used throughout the material.
A good treatment of career awareness and employment skills development is provided. The material is a good source of ideas for the creative teacher. The modules offer many ideas on how to engage students in the active investigation of careers and employment and it can be adapted and supplemented to fit different student groups and employment contexts. The material probably can be most effectively used prior to specific skill development.
The instructional delivery format basically relies on “paper and pencil” assignments. While this is a low-cost option, students may not get an adequate exposure to the IT applications that are sweeping through the work world. Moreover, greater variety in the kinds of project activities may work to enhance students’ interest and learning. However, there is enough flexibility in how the instructional material can be used that the creative teacher can easily build on the instructional foundation that is already built. This is useful training material and a source of good ideas. Good reading and writing skills among students are needed to most effectively use the material. Teacher instruction and oversight is required.
Technology-based Vocational Skills Training for Marginalized Girls and Young Women is designed to support the development of short-term, nonformal training to enhance participants' job-seeking and employment-generation skills. The target population of the potential trainers using the material is out-of-school marginalized girls and young women. One of the specificities of the program under which this material was developed relates to the idea of expanding the role of formal technical and vocational schools to include shorter-term, nonformal vocational and technical skills development for out-of-school girls and young women.
The project was implemented in Indonesia between 2002 and 2006. The project pilot demonstrated how formal and nonformal education can be integrated to provide out-of-school girls and young women with practical technology-based vocational training. The material was initially published in Bahasa Indonesia, and it was intended to provide a manual that would allow for replication of the model in four pilot sites. An English version of the material was subsequently published for dissemination in other countries in the Asia and Pacific region through UNESCO field offices.
Please note that Preparing for Work identifies Technology-based Vocational Skills as a resource. The material is available for free download under the How to Obtain tab and on the Additional Resources page of this website.
Technology-based Vocational Skills Training for Marginalized Girls and Young Women Modules:
There are two components to the seven modules: (1) text material designed to provide a guide to the trainer; and (2) a set of accompanying activities designed to enhance the understanding and use of the text material.
The first module, Community Analysis and Needs Assessment, focuses on the use of a market survey and skills analysis to determine potential job possibilities and the associated skills required. The activities are designed to engage students in carrying out a market survey and skills analysis. Module 2, Socialization Process and Participant Selection, covers such topics as empowerment, gender and reproductive health. Material on how to organize and conduct workshops, focus groups, and discussion groups is also presented. Module 3, Curriculum Development, is designed to familiarize trainers with goal setting, objective formulation, and course planning. An experiential learning cycle model that stresses participatory learning is presented in Module 4, Training Methodology and Learning Activities. Also included is a discussion on developing learning activities and instructional materials. Module 5 covers Post-training Follow-up and Provision of Support, and Module 6 covers Monitoring and Evaluation. The final module, Mobilizing Resources, briefly examines potential resources for implementation.
The activities at the end of each module are designed to engage the aspiring trainer in use of the material. Some of the activities are appropriate to use with trainees. Many of the activities require the participant to seek out information within the community from potential employers, leaders, and other households. A number of the activities also relate to the employment environment and potential job-generating activities. The activities are the strength of the modules and provide many good ideas for potential users.
No formal evaluation results available
For an individual charged with developing a training program for out-of-school, marginalized girls and women, this set of modules offers a framework of basic, conventional program elements. The focus is on how to use the tools of community analysis, needs analysis, individual experience and group participation to help women find employment in their communities. Additional information is given on the design of instruction and evaluating outcomes. The material is basically designed to prepare trainers, and assumes that local, qualified individuals can be engaged to help design and conduct local programs. Full use of the material requires a person familar with training program design. One of the strengths of the materials is the variety of activities designed to engage individuals with the information provided in the text of each module. The material is well-organized, clear, easy to use and easy to understand. It should also be noted that one of the specificities of the program under which this material was developed relates to the idea of expanding the role of formal technical and vocational schools to include shorter-term, non-formal vocational and technical skills development for out-of-school girls. Much of the material, however, is in a very abbreviated form. This requires considerable supplementing both through informed experience and sources material. Perhaps the greatest shortcoming is that the material is developed through the perspective of the formal economic sector, when the intended use of training is for females destined for the informal economic sector. Similarly, the approach to the design of instruction is from the vantage point of formal education. Teaching and learning from the perspective of uneducated, marginalized girls and young women is largely missing. Finally, the user must be sensitive to potential "cultural" issues.
Programme Specialist, EPR Unit
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