"Most times, young people's decisions to choose a career path are influenced by family in The Gambia and as such, it can harm the life of that individual."
This was put forward by Mamadi Jarjou, a trainer of Career Guidance and Counselling from Nova Scotia-Gambia Association. It is also one of the factors limiting young people both from exploring broader opportunities available to them when choosing a career path and from exploring with an independent mind their own aspirations and true potentials. It's often a shallow board with youths pushed to think opportunities are narrowed to only the ones they often see, which results in some trying illegal means of traveling or finding other unreasonable ways of sustaining a living.
It is against this backdrop that the EU-GIZ Tekki Fii project is currently training its second batch of 520 TVET beneficiaries in Career Guidance and Counselling (CG&C), which is one of the support skills aimed at equipping trainees with skills that will give them a competitive edge and a stronger self-esteem in entering the labor market. Currently, 784 out of 1200 trainees have undergone CG&C training.
Momodou Bittaye is the head of the TVET component under the GIZ implemented EU-funded Tekki Fii project: "We target all our TVET beneficiaries as well as secondary school students and inactive youths. For the secondary school students, we liaised with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to identify the schools and classes," He also added that for the inactive youths, GIZ contacted the regional youth representatives to identify the organized youth clubs within the regions and the clubs were then selected based on their profiles i.e. gender, club activities and location.
The training is a trailblazer given that most of the educational institutions from secondary schools to tertiary institutions in The Gambia do not offer CG&C services to students. It is therefore an added advantage that provides trainees with the opportunity to make informed decisions about their lives. They participate in modules that provoke deep thoughts and reflections about the supposed path undertaken. "The trainees were exposed to subjects around themes such as Create your future, Know yourself and Focus on your career, with the expectation that they will develop a positive mindset, and we hope that they will be more focused and oriented in their career paths," explained Momodou Ceesay a trainer at Insight Training Center.
Choosing a career is one of the common challenges young people face according to Mariama Sillah, a trainer from Sterling Consortium: "CG&C helps students to acquire the knowledge, information, skills and experience necessary to identify career options and narrow them down to make one career decision," adding that this career decision results in their social, financial and emotional wellbeing.
GIZ is intending to extend its reach across all three intervention areas herein GBA, LRR, and URR to train another 3000 youths in addition to the 1200 TVET beneficiaries. However, some of the already benefitting youth express gratitude for the newly acquired skills that have emboldened them to choose their own careers after attending Life Skills and Enter Labor Market Trainings. "My perception about my career was dormant but after this career guidance training, I have realized that sewing and fashion designing is what I'm truly made for, and now I'm more confident that I can make it here in The Gambia than ever before," says Abdou Samura a student in Garment Making at Ida's Ideas Fashion Designing Institute.
To conclude, Isatou. S Bah another beneficiary studying Business Management at GTTI says she was a bit skeptical about her chosen field, but after the training it has become clear that she can excel in her field. "I have learned that your career is your choice, and this has taught me to be more independent in my thinking. Now I am ready to take on the challenge and become the entrepreneur I aspire to be thanks to the EU, GIZ and their partners." Isatou advises young people to choose careers they are happy in and not because they have been forced by family or friends. Which after all, is the main aim of the CG&C initiative.