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How to help students who have reduced opportunity for skill development

We want to have a conversation about privilege in each industry and how we address the lack of it in certain communities. It is important to reflect on what social mechanism has directed us on our own path, and how many others miss out. Discussion and awareness allows us to take a step forward, but many other large steps are necessary to achieve equality.

Educators and employers have a responsibility to identify students who may be underprivileged in their skill development. Or perhaps they are not guided or made aware of opportunities that may result in a successful career journey. These are the students that are most often identified as at-risk for becoming delinquent, dropping out of school, or getting into trouble with the law. Young women are not excluded from this but they may express themselves (or frustrations) in more subtle ways making it hard to identify when they struggle to find a path. They may also appear bored or distracted in class, and not express real interest in any skill.

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic creates additional challenge to families…even the most disciplined students may struggle when their educational routine is disrupted. Taking these young adults out of the safe, structured and familiar learning environment can impact their mental health and discipline, putting them further behind their peers.

Whether you are a teacher hoping to place a student, or a business owner that’s looking for an apprentice, here are some things that you can to do to help young women: 

Show her activities that are accessible to you, but that are behind an economic or social barrier. As example, a student may not know that they like driving if their family never owned a car. A car however opens many earning opportunities in careers that require a person to travel. Similarly, a student is unlikely to consider pursuing a mariner career if they have never been on a boat. However, the average salary of a mariner is $60,200 (and includes travel) so we need to get creative when exposing students to opportunities!

She may be passionate about something, but not know the monetization opportunities around the industry. Students must be educated in the variety of industries that cross-support each other. Once the student realizes that, she may discover career paths that she did not know existed but that keep her in an industry that she is passionate about. As an example, a student interested in art might not realize along with graphic design, large printing shops hire tech specialists, cyber security, drivers, millwrights, and more. And in cosmetics… applying cosmetics is art, but creating cosmetics is chemistry (just ask Alyssa Space of 4Her Cosmetics!). Sharing information about how different industries are connected, what levels of education are necessary, and what opportunities exist, may give a student a head-start in their education planning.

Assign hands-on projects outside of her everyday duties, and watch for changes in attitude. Students may not always realize a passion from the first try, but once a spark is ignited it will eventually show in their attitude towards a subject. Assigning small and varied — yet specialized — tasks might demonstrate an aptitude for a certain field, which can help an educator direct a student to different opportunities.

Encourage her to participate in CO-OP education. Educators should encourage female students in high school to take co-operative education in grade 11 or 12 so that they can gain experience working with an employer in the community, and see if they would enjoy pursuing a career in that field in the future.

Offer your mentorship, invite her to shadow you at your job and explain your tasks. Students in grade 7-10 would greatly benefit from the opportunity to interact with an adult who works in a career that they would like to learn more about. Broadcasting guest speakers to a class is another way to engage students with professionals in the community to learn more about the variety of careers that are available to them.

By the time today’s students mature and reach the workforce, each and every field will have evolved, with many ready to welcome them with enthusiasm. Build A Dream can help your company to evolve alongside the workforce, building a welcoming and inclusive workplace that attracts new talent. Call us at 519-800-1222 to get help staying ahead in the battle for talent.

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