Core Competency: job skills for rural Thai youth

by Warm Heart Worldwide, Inc
Core Competency: job skills for rural Thai youth
Program orientation meeting
Program orientation meeting

September brought the launch of our "Upskills Program" for local youth. We had collected informational and goal-setting surveys from 17 potential students, had them do an English pretest and a 15-minute conversational Zoom to assess language competency levels. The students were willing to commit to a year-long program with approximately 4 hours per week of study and a weekly check-in class with the English teacher.  Monthly workshops would cover specific skill development areas. We were still coming to an agreement with our candidate to be the program manager, but we decided to get started as the students were ready to get going

Working with a nearby government sub-district (Kun Pak) program for youth development, our first orientation class was held in person at the Story Cafe run by the youth group. Our long-time staff member, Da, led the meeting with assistance from Co-founder, Evelind.  The students ranged from high school to post-university - all worried about finding jobs.  Even though the students had studied English in school, they all wanted to focus on English first, to build some confidence in speaking. 

The first few months will focus on basic English, reviewing vocabulary, and orienting the students to appropriate meeting and greeting skills for interviews and customer service. Our teachers include the program manager, "Finn", who comes with an American GED and TEFL training. Having had to find his way in Thailand as a Burmese refugee, he brings first-hand knowledge of what is needed to build self-confidence and critical job skills. Our long-time employee, "Da", has added teaching English to her skill set and can ease the self-consciousness of her students who know her from the community.

Additional benefits have come from launching the program.  Finn has been using the curriculum to teach our Warm Heart students English during their school break.  Earn, a recent college graduate, networked with other recent grads and was hired into a part-time job working for the sub-district.  

We are still listening and adjusting the class material as our teachers need to fill gaps in basic skills.  

Thank you for making this possible!

Da explains the program and survey feedback
Da explains the program and survey feedback
Finn and Da teach first in-person class
Finn and Da teach first in-person class
Students create sentences
Students create sentences
Finn and volunteer teach our youngest English
Finn and volunteer teach our youngest English
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COVID Lockdown High School Students Study online
COVID Lockdown High School Students Study online

Our staff and remote volunteers are setting up the computers, surveying our target youth audience, settling the English and soft skills curriculum.  The first set of computers has been delivered and the network is in place. All moving us closer to a start date, despite COVID spikes that have closed most venues for gathering, caused school delays, and require online classes. (The computers were put to good use when we had another unexpected school shut down and all the high school students need to report in and study online.)

Meanwhile, the economy continues to slow down with no major vaccine program underway.  In our rural area, there are fewer cases, but whole villages close their gates when the threat level goes up. 

This has slowed the access to candidates to do focus groups and recruitment.  So we are looking for additional paths to our target students.  Only one subdistrict, out of 11, in our Phrao District has a program to teach small business entrepreneurship to young people out of school.   We recently met the mentor for the program through one of our college graduates, Faa, who landed a year contract as a program manager and assists with mentoring.  Their mentees fit the profile of students we are surveying to refine our program.   

The first round of surveys gives us a good range of jobs that students aspire to. It will also give us some ways to overcome the hesitancy of these students to commit and engage with an organization that has foreigners.  Our Thai staff know the communities and are helping to adapt the program.  They are reaching out to engage some of the youth in helping us to set the program.

We thank you for supporting this crucial program.  It has had to pivot and adjust as COVID throws us curves, but we are getting close and excited to get started.

Evelind, Michael, and Dana

Survey of Youth Interests, Skills
Survey of Youth Interests, Skills
New Computers Set to Go
New Computers Set to Go
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With your gifts to date and monthly commitments, we have over 70% of the first-year's budget in place. We are moving forward. The equipment has been selected and our first teacher identified,  The English curriculum is being tested with a weekly Facebook class.  Our survey of students is underway.  Our local computer and network technician is ordering the computers and planning the network expansion.

The English class has attracted young people looking for jobs.  The teacher is a young woman who has a degree as a science teacher from a major university in Chiang Mai. Through her work at the local vocational-technical college, she realized how few resources are available to young people to build the right skills and find jobs that suit them.  Her goal is to develop an application to help students identify the skills they need for the jobs they want and match them to employers.

In the meantime, we tested one of the soft skills programs with 20 of our students at Warm Heart.  With the success of Girlrising.org's gender-neutral "Explore More"  program, we plan to use it as part of the "soft" skills development program. The Explore More program helps youths build their self-confidence, by forming goals, increase self-awareness and improve peer interactions and life planning.

Thank you for making this possible!  

Warm regards from the team at Warm Heart!

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Business Skills Survey in Thai
Business Skills Survey in Thai

Thanks to all your support, we have the finds to get the project underway.  While we are still finalizing the project plan, we expect to have the equipment,  curriculum, teachers, and students in place for a pilot in Q1.

We are starting with surveys of businesses to confirm what skills are lacking in the current youth populace.  The photo of the zigsaw puzzle is the survey format created by our staff. they have started with local businesses and will continue in the city of Chiang Mai.

We have been setting up partnerships with curriculum developers for English, soft skills, and both coding and hospitality specialties.

  1. Soft skills: We will use programs with a proven track record. For example, Girlsrising.org. This is a program for both boys and girls to build self-esteem and set personal goals. This is a program taught by mentors at our site.
  2. English - TEFL-based English program for Thai students to supplement their core studies.
  3. Hospitality – working with the Dusit Hotels University, we have access to online core skills training and English for hospitality.
  4. Coding - Build out the program developed by Steven Devos and supplement with Code.org and CodeAcademy.

In addition, we have offers of assistance from volunteers from major tech companies that have experience building vocational training programs for youth.

We are excited about the development of this valuable project and again thank you for being a part of making this happen.

Warm Heart staff interviewing business owner
Warm Heart staff interviewing business owner
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Organization Information

Warm Heart Worldwide, Inc

Location: Phrao, Chiang Mai - Thailand
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WarmHeartOrg
Project Leader:
Michael Shafer
Phrao, Chiang Mai Thailand
$20,919 raised of $25,000 goal
 
158 donations
$4,081 to go
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