Once upon a time, Youth Connect conducted 3 months of research into the migrant school system in Mae Sot, on the Thai-Burma border, with a particular focus on its effectiveness in preparing young adults for the workforce.
The results showed a need for more vocational preparation and training for migrant school graduates, as well as the need for the creation of more job opportunities.
Youth Connect turned the results into reality. Beginning with the Transitions program, still the core of the organisation today, we offered training in life skills and Thai language to young adults who were unable to go into higher educational programs after Secondary School.
Our program focuses on migrant youth from Burma but is equally available to local Thai youth.
The transitions program targets dozens of students for courses; from these, about 50 will sign on for a six-month long apprenticeship intensive course. Students receive more work and life skill training and then are places in actual jobs throughout Mae Sot.
Currently we work with nearly 80 businesses in the region, large and small. We partner with businesses on condition that they will work with our apprentices as such; that they will provide feedback and training so the young adults can broaden their skills base and have more opportunities in the future.
Over time, it became clear that while our project successfully increased the employability of youth, it did not yet achieve the goal of creating new employment opportunities. Mae Sot is a developing and growing region; Youth Connect began to brainstorm over what types of enterprises would naturally flourish.
Furthermore, the enterprises needed to provide skills training opportunities for young adults; hence grew the five social enterprises we currently run.
In all our social enterprises, apprentices have the chance to become after their successful completion of the apprentice program, full time staff. They in turn can help train new apprentices, and “give back” while also honing new training skills.
That’s the social half of things; the enterprise half means that each of these small businesses function as self-sustaining, profit-and-income generating independent establishments.
The creation of The Picturebook Guesthouse is the final and biggest project. No other project provides quite as many fruitful opportunities for jobs that train students in a breadth of skills and capacities. This project will be able to sustain the largest number of apprentices and full-time training staff of any Youth Connect business.
Like our other social enterprises, it welcomes the integration of Thai, migrant and foreigners in a sharing and cooperative community that makes Mae Sot so unique. In providing youth with skills that will benefit their future, it also functions as an ethical business, not only for the profit of one but for the profit of many. All profits go back to Youth Connect.
… and we want to thank you for being interested in our work and, hopefully, staying at the Guesthouse.
We hope you take pride in contributing to this original business model, which envisions a world in which youth, no matter their background, have an opportunity to learn and develop safe and independent, productive lives.
Please visit the Youth Connect website to find out more about Youth Connect and its other social enterprises and training programs.