The business world says that there are not enough young people with strong communication skills, work ethic, and leadership skills to fill today’s workforce pipeline. Through schoolwork, youth can gain knowledge and skills in areas like reading, writing, math and science. Working hard in school and taking advantage of all the opportunities available is very important, but it is not enough. By stepping up and doing more outside of school, it gives them a head start. Skills such as thinking skills; communication; teamwork and leadership; lifelong learning and self-direction; technology adoption and application; and professionalism and ethics are called 21st century skills (or life skills). These skills have not replaced the technical skills of doing a specific job. Rather, they are the skills necessary for almost all jobs and they are becoming more important every day.
The great news is that youth participating in 4-H are on the right path to obtaining these skills employers seek because 4-H projects, events, and activities incorporate workforce development skills regardless of the subject matter content. In fact, thousands of 4-H Alumni credit 4-H with their success in work and personal life. You can read some of their stories in our 4-H Press Room or watch the video below to learn how Commissioner of Ag Adam Putnam got his start in 4-H.
It’s never too early to start, and 4-H volunteers and parents play a critical role in helping youth gain skills and experiences through the pre-employment process. Below are ideas that will assist youth on the path to a successful career.
Career Awareness and Exploration
☐ Advise youth to read a book or do online research on six different career areas that interest them
☐ Start a job journal where they keep notes on different jobs.
☐ Have them to interview someone they know about their career.
☐ Contribute to a blog about a workforce career or skill.
☐ Take an aptitude assessment to see what types of careers might fit their interests.
☐ Coordinate a field trip for your 4-h club to a business or organization.
☐ Participate in 4-H U to explore different careers and fields of study.
21st Century Skill Development
☐ Youth can conduct a talk or demonstration on a career of interest.
☐ They can volunteer for a leadership role on a committee, club, etc.
☐ They can teach an adult coworker, family member, teacher or club leader how to apply or use a
technology to improve what they are trying to do.
☐ They can ask their teacher, parent, boss or club leader once a week (or whenever you meet) what they
can do to help out.
☐ Ask at least one question each day at school, home and work.
☐ Youth can attend a presentation on a workforce skill or topic.
☐ He/she can identify a skill area and write two goals and specific action items for improving your skill
in that area over the next six months.
Preparing for the Work World
☐ He or she can write a resume including project and work experiences and have an employer, educator
or parent review it.
☐ They can ask a friend, family member or adult leader to give you a practice interview, or apply to be a
summer camp counselor- part of the application includes an interview!
☐ Complete a 4-H Portfolio. The portfolio includes a resume and interview process. Top portfolios are awarded scholarships during 4-H U each year.
☐ Take an application scavenger hunt. Pick up or view multiple applications online to determine
what kinds of things are required for most applications and what the process includes.
☐ Club members can interview a human resource professional to learn about the employment process
and tips they suggest for improving your chance of success in the process
☐ They can apply for a job, trip, office or volunteer experience that requires them to go through an
application and interview process. Don’t forget they can always turn down an offer.
Work-Based Learning (Employment or Service)
☐ They can serve as a camp counselor or a 4-H Ambassador.
☐ Club members can ask their parent for feedback on their performance with a household task or chore.
☐ Can serve as a volunteer at a business or organization.
☐ They can discuss with their current employer other career opportunities.
☐ Mentor a younger youth.
Encourage young people to start thinking about their experiences and accomplishments. They all have unique abilities, talents, skills, knowledge, and gifts. By learning to recognize the valuable skills they have gained, they can pinpoint their interests and help them to discover what types of career they may want to explore! If you are have skills you would like to share to help today’s youth become tomorrow’s workforce, visit http://florida4h.org/volunteer or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.