Practical Programming: Helping Young People with Study and Employment

23 Aug

Here in the East of England a guide called “What Next? A Guide for 17-18 Year Olds” is circulating amongst youth organisations and libraries. The guide covers topics such as going into work, job training programs, how to gain useful experience during a gap year, and options for teens who want to continue studying but have decided to delay their entry into higher education.

Practical ProgrammingAlthough library programs for youth often focus on leisure and fun, scores of teens and young adults need practical advice about jobs, education, extracurricular opportunities, and finances.

My library sees quite a few older teens and young adults every week. They come to work on their CVs, look at our career guides, and gain employer contact details. Young people working on their exams (both GCSEs and A-Levels) have repeatedly requested that we set aside certain materials and space for studying.

The greatest number of requests is always for up-to-date exam study guides. The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library maintain a large section of reference only study and career guides. I’m sure those books are in use continually during the Winter and Spring.

At my very own library (Southend Central) we’ve received repeated requests for designated study areas for young people. Perennial library patrons do not always welcome the springtime influx of study groups, and many regular library users become hostile toward young people (this usually only manifests itself into glaring and throat-clearing, but the message reaches teens load and clear). Designing an elected study area for young people is on my long-term agenda (I promise to update with further details if I get a study area plan into action!).

The library is filled with young people searching for work and researching qualifications. Southend Library’s teen advisory group (Southend Library Youth Forum) has recommended partnering with Connexions to provide help for young people looking for work (this could include anything from assistance creating CVs to careers advice).

After school homework clubs and study groups can prove popular, but be prepared for a high volume of students in need of help. It may be necessary to set parameters ahead of time about the content of the group and the type of help provided by staff. Alternately you may simply state that staff will not be present and allow the group to self-monitor.

“What Next?” points out that many young people who want to continue into higher education may not be ready or able to enter university. Your library may consider setting aside a small collection of books and up-to-date pamphlets with relevant alternatives to university, such as short courses, Open University offerings, recent publications about applying (and re-applying) to courses (“What Next?” recommends the UCAS website). You may also add information about local and national volunteer opportunities and programs abroad. (Click here to view the resources linked to in the “What Next?” brochure).

It’s not necessary to keep a massive collection of information, so long as what you have is direct and relevant. You may find a very positive local teen response to programs and groups local need for information about study, work, and other practical concerns.

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