Celebrating World Youth Skills Day with Openmind Projects – An Organization Creating Learners with Better Understanding of Skills
The term skill refers to the ability to perform tasks or jobs with ease and adaptivity in relation to ideas (cognitive skills), things (technical skills), and people (interpersonal skills). With economies advancing rapidly, job roles are becoming more critical. Having just theoretical knowledge to perform well in these roles is no longer enough. Recruiters are constantly looking for people with relevant skills. Understanding the importance of skill development and the rising unemployment among the youth as a lack of it, United Nations declared 15th July as World Youth Skills Day. This day strives to raise awareness of the importance of skilling the youth.
We had a conversation with Sven Mauleon and Gaweechat Joompaula, co-founders of Openmind Projects. The organization is active in Southeast Asia. Using resources from local communities and a global network of supporters, they support village girls and boys in gaining a better education. The organization strives to create learners who know how to apply their skills to be more successful in life.
Why is it important to celebrate World Youth Skills Day?
Gaweechat Joompaula: The day helps to raise awareness about the importance of skill development. And skill development is extremely crucial in today’s world. It can help young people achieve their dreams and improve their lives significantly. Therefore, it’s important to celebrate this day in order to raise awareness.
Can you tell us a little bit about your organization?
Sven Mauleon: With Openminds Project, we aim to help the less privileged young people. We first started with the idea of bringing computers and the internet to the young people in isolated villages. Without the knowledge of technology, these people were lagging. To keep them informed about the world, we believed that the internet could act as a bridge. And to use the internet, they also needed to polish their English skills. So those are the two skills that we wanted to help people with. They would then be able to acquire more knowledge with these skills.
Could you introduce us to one of your projects?
Gaweechat Joompaula: We started a project from an orphan home. Our aim was to test out how motivated people are to learn computers in the village. We selected a group of four-five senior boys from the house to help me in the village. We provided them with proper training first. The next step involves keeping them, retraining them, and then letting them be the ones who pass on the skill. In our absence, they are the ones that conduct training sessions for children in the village. So we see that the patterns work very well that we demonstrate to the group and then let that person train another.
Sven Mauleon: The trainer first demonstrates what he can do with the computer, and then we let the kids go and explore themselves. And once they start discovering new things, the entire training process becomes all the more exciting as it appeals to their natural curiosity.
Gaweechat Joompaula: We first started in villages, and now we have also moved on to schools. One of our trainees attended a computer competition where one had to use their computer skills to solve a problem and acquired the second position. That is how the school got to know about us. They contacted us, and that’s when we started our school program.
What do you think is more important, education or skills development?
Sven Mauleon: If you speak English but you have no knowledge about climate change or any other topic, your English speaking skills are then empty and meaningless. Similarly, it’s just a hobby if you are good at maths but don’t use it to solve any problem. So to us, skill and knowledge go together. One is not useful without the other. You need to acquire some skills, and then with those skills, you can acquire knowledge and vice versa.