Young people help high schoolers forge path to future success
Participants of the UPSHIFT programme have created a skills academy to help guide young people in their future careers
In less than a year, 16-year-old Alla will start university. But like thousands of other Ukrainian high school students, she is still struggling to choose a profession.
This is why Alla and two friends decided to enroll in the UPSHIFT youth innovation programme, run by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to help other teenagers to discover potential careers and acquire new skills.
"We approached the programme with a concern that resonated with us – choosing a future profession,” explains Alla. “Our team wanted to convey to young people that they should not only focus on the financial aspect but also consider their interest in a specific field. After all, one dedicates a substantial amount of time to their profession, so it should be fulfilling."
Together, Alla, Timur and Yelyzaveta underwent training in the programme’s methodology and received help from mentors, along with the necessary resources, to carry out their ‘Prof Skills Academy’ initiative.
As part of their project, they organized a series of educational events in Kropyvnytskyi. For high school students, they arranged meetings with representatives from the IT industry, including a developer and a web designer, and also facilitated a training session called ‘Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking’, led by a professional presenter.
“On social media, we asked our audience who they would like to talk to,” says Alla. “And this is how we choose speakers. The attendees appreciated that guests talked about their job honestly and with no exaggeration.”
The UPSHIFT team believes that acquiring specific skills is crucial for securing a job in a particular field. To address this need, the team organized a two-day event where experts provided insights on time management, team collaboration, self-presentation and coping with emotional burnout. Attendees also had the opportunity to engage in art therapy sessions, guided by a professional psychologist.
"A few participants of our project have expressed that we guided them in the right direction," says Alla. "For instance, one girl discovered her passion and enrolled in a public speaking class. This means we’ve been able to influence and assist teenagers in acquiring new skills and exploring diverse professions."
In total, over 100 high school students actively participated in Prof Skills Academy events over the summer of 2023. And Alla and her team are not stopping there – they are already planning future training sessions and meetings.
"Our events had a fantastic atmosphere,” says Alla, proudly. “Participants provided positive feedback, which is truly inspiring and motivating. As a result, we are committed to continuing to organize similar events at the youth center in Kropyvnytskyi.
The UPSHIFT programme helps to empower young people to identify challenges in their communities and create entrepreneurial solutions to address them. The programme recently celebrated its fifth anniversary in Ukraine.