Civic Engagement and Our Youth

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 11:25 PM

Written by: Jenna Green

Today we were asked, " What knowledge, skills, and values do young people need for effective Civic Engagement and how does it play a role in preparing youth for employment" by the NSWD, National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability. If you don't know, NCWD/Youth works to ensure that transition age youth are provided full access to high quality services in integrated settings to gain education, employment and independent living. 

What is Civic Engagement?

Civic Engagement is an individual or collective group working to address issues of public concern, such as helping to correct problems in their communities. By participating in civic engagement, knowledge, skills, values, and motivation are needed to help correct those issues of public concern.

How does a young person effectively aid in solving problems in their community?

First of all, a person needs to define the problem that he or she is trying to solve in their community and figure out what needs to be learned in order to resolve the issue. If  aperson didn't know what kind of soil to plant an oak tree in, then how can that person successfully plant a tree? Learning about the the different soils would be key to solving the issue. No matter what the activity is, knowledge of the subject matter and the willingness to learn about it is imperative.


What skills are needed for civic engagement?

The following top five skills are needed:

1. Time Management - The young person needs to be able to prioritize their tasks and manage their time wisely. Balance is key to relieving stress caused my overwhelming feelings from taking on too much at a time. The young person must know how much time he or she can dedicate to the cause. The goal should to be able to enjoy civic engagement without it interfering with school activities, job, or other priority items.

2. Teamwork- Two brains working together are better than one. The young person needs to be able to work well with others. Teamwork encompasses many other needed skills such as listening, expressing wants and needs, providing feedback, and more. By being able to work on a team, civic projects can be completed in a timely matter.

3. Analytical- Many people become intimidated by the word "analytical" because they think of graphs and charts. When you decide what you want to do for the weekend, you are analyzing your situation. Your decision to use your free time on certain activities involves an analytical process. Young people need to be able to survey the public issues and determine options to resolving them. Knowing how to analyze a situation and coming up with possible solutions is key to solving the big picture. 

4. Communication- Effective communication covers not only what comes out of your mouth, but includes what you write on paper, type in an email, and even your body language. Communication is oftentimes the cause of issues in our community. Check out more information for Effective Communication here.

5. Intercultural Communication- Young people need to be able to effectively communicate with persons from different cultural backgrounds. International involvement is increasing, therefore it is imperative for young people to know how people from other countries communicate. They need to know what is acceptable or not acceptable in other cultures.

What are the values needed?

We believe that in order to participate in civic engagement, one needs to value:

1. Strong Work Ethic-  One must understand and posses the willingness to learn, grow, and work hard.

2. Dependable & Responsible- One must be able to follow through on actions and be responsible for their actions and behaviors

3. Honesty- One must be able to maintain a sense of integrity and make ethical decisions.

Civic Engagement helps prepare young people for employment by helping them improve on their developed skills. It provides young people the opportunity to use their knowledege, skills, and abilities to help the community and help improve their strengths and weaknesses. Nowadays, employers are looking for experienced candidates to fill their positions. They look for motivated candidates that are willing to go the extra mile to lead their company in the direction of success. Practicing civic engagement provide real life job experience that exemplifies qualities, ability, and character.

 For more information about the NSWD, National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability click here.


Categories: Career Advice, College Advice, Resources

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