Youth Design a New Future for Themselves.

by on Thursday, 01 March 2012 Comments

‘Youth Design’ is a project of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare (TAAYRW), set up to provide foundational work skills and professional design training, allowing young people to familiarize themselves with design related jobs, and helping them to accumulate work experience, to successfully orientate themselves in the job market, and to develop their skills.

Senior project manager Hong Xiaoping explained, "It’s mostly design classes, for one hundred hours, work ethics, financial management and work shadow, to understand the nature of the work in the design and printing industries. Including classes on CV writing and team-work, allowing students to understand that having talent alone is not enough.

Opportunities for internships are also available depending on your CV and on mock interviews, as a means of pairing off placements and interns. Students submit their CV themselves, and have a choice of 2 or 3 companies. The internship allowance is provided my TAAYRW."

Hong Xiaoping told us that often companies question the value of having young people who have given up on their studies and have no professional background interning at their workplaces.Many firms discover that these young people have a lot more potential than they had imagined, although they often find they have to adjust their methods and preconceived ideas when dealing with them. Young people nowadays tend to question everything, and don’t like being bossed about. Once they are clear on the purpose of what they are doing, and they know its significance, they are willing to go and do it.

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We also interviewed the Secretary General of the TAAYRW, Yeh Dahwa, and asked her to explain the idea behind the ‘YouthDesign’ project.

TAAYRW was founded eight and a half years ago, with the primary aim of changing the stereotypical idea within society that the youth are ‘dependent’, and instead to portray them as ‘citizens-in-the-making’. We promote rights including for welfare protection, public participation, recreation, health, education, and employment.

Society needs to see the changes that ordinary young people are going through, on the cusp of becoming mature citizens of society, and this needs to be supported by society, in terms of families, communities and educational institutions, and foster an atmosphere of social participation, citizenship and a safety net for those who fall into poverty.

When looking at the development of young people, you can’t just look at the situation from one angle, like focusing on those who come from under privileged backgrounds, or on the school entry system

The mainstream test-focused system.

Approximately 90% of young people make their life choices within the frame of the test-focused system, they are restricted by this system of values. If they don’t get into a good school or get good grades, their value to society diminishes, to the point that some of them might not even be considered people. Moreover, whenever there is any activity that contradicts this mainstream ideology appears, it is quickly blown out of proportion by the media, and becomes so-called deviant or antisocial behavior.

The question is, are the resources and choices offered by society enough? Everybody is forced to take the same path, but some people from different backgrounds are not suitable to follow this mainstream path, yet they are still constrained by it.

If the mainstream education system continues to bread people who are just good at pursuing good grades, then it will suppress the emergence of many kinds of creative talent, who will have to rely solely on their own effort, without support. For example a lot of people only have the chance to realize their talent abroad, why don’t we cultivate this kind of talent in Taiwan? The education policy focuses on collecting what is already a finished product, instead of nurturing new talent, it is very short-sighted.

There needs to be some planning ahead when it comes to policy. For example, if someone enjoys painting and creative work, how can we help them become a designer or someone involved in creative activities. This process cannot be achieved in one go, but rather needs to be cumulative. With this in mind, we hope that through or training project “Good Design”, we can let people know that the talent training that the Taiwanese government often mentions needs to be a cumulative, top-bottom process. It requires consideration from the business point of view, and investment from the education aspect. Moreover, it should support people before they have made a name for themselves.

Shattering some myths

A lot of people believe young people are part of “The strawberry generation” (Taiwanese term for those born between 1980-90, that were raised well off), that they are not good at dealing with pressure, that they are cold towards society. But why do people have to use this label? If people did a bit of research and widened their horizons before attaching these kind of labels, then these kinds of terms wouldn’t even exist.

We have seen a lot of employers who are interested in making use of young people’s energy, passion, and creativity. But they are scared because of the stereotypes they often see in the media, such as young people being hard to control or egocentric, so the first time they employ a young person they are usually wary. We feel that our organizations activities and accomplishments have become very important. We have invited a careers coach to serve as a bridge, helping companies and employers understand how to interact with young people. We hope that through these training activities, we can make people understand a lot of these young people are not “strawberries”; they work very hard and very seriously at their jobs, but this hard effort is not reported by the media.

Translated from the Chinese by Daniel Pagan Murphy, Conor Stuart

Chen Jiajun, the girl who participated in "Youth design" program tells us her story...

Li Xin, one of the participants of "Youth Design" shares her experiences studying in Taiwan and Denmark, and her determination to work in the art field, and how the project enabled her in this goal:

 

Zijie Yang (楊子頡)

一個連自身存在都與所身處社會一樣荒謬的年輕男子,不太適應團體,不易尋得認同與歸屬感。曾參與06年廢墟佔領、寶藏巖公社抗爭;10年參與桑雅靜心劇坊學習舞踏;現為諾努客反核文化行動團隊活動企劃與鼓手,台灣大學社會工作學系系學生。

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