Student Engagement Officer
Here at YLAA, we’re big on working with and listening to young people - they’re the whole reason we exist, and the main recipients of our work. So we asked our Youth Advisory Board - what do they want to see from the YLAA events in 2022? Their answers gave some insight into what young people all across the country want from their education, and from the program and event providers who work with them. Check out some of their ideas and responses below for some insight into the future of education and learning that young people want.
Look, we’re all ready for the era of social distancing to be over. While we’re sticking to our health guidelines, we can see why students are asking for more interaction, connection, and collaboration at their events.
Our young people are curious - they want to ask the hard questions, work out answers to complex and wicked problems, and share and collaborate on ideas and passions. Mere keynotes don’t really do it any more - our students are asking for more time to question, explore, discuss, workshop, and ideate, rather than just purely be inspired.
We’re excited to be bringing more student-led activities back to our events as restrictions ease. We’re excited for students to meet others with similar interests, and form bonds, create ideas, and foster connections at our events. The best ideas often start with a conversation - and we can’t wait to get back to making more of those in 2022.
It’s widespread understanding that drop-in, one day programs aren’t doing it for young people any more. With all the information we could ever need at our fingertips, students don’t need someone to spend a day telling them what they could find out in a YouTube video.
Our students are asking for support instead - longer-term programs and incubators that give them not only the confidence, but also the mentorship, accountability, and touchpoints that enable them to initiate, cultivate, and sustain genuine change within themselves and their communities.
That’s why we have LeaderUp - our 3-month, post-conference program. LeaderUp combines a 10-week design incubator for school-based programs, and applicable, skills-based powerclasses, aiming to supercharge young people’s leadership, teamwork, and innovation. Students will develop an initiative to address challenges in their schools and communities, and will be mentored through the process of planning, implementation, and evaluating their project.
Jamie is an alumnus of the LeaderUp program, whose idea on how to incentivise higher school attendance rates at his school was adopted readily by his principal, and acknowledged even by the NSW Department of Education. Jamie is the captain of his school in 2022, and has demonstrated outstanding leadership, innovation, problem solving, and commitment to community throughout the program - everything we want our students to embody when they walk away from our programs.
The case is clear for longer-term programs and investment in students - mentorship, guidance, and ongoing support can help them transform their ideas into incredible realities.
Young people are more switched on than ever to the individual needs of their peers - and we’ve been able to learn so much from them about how to run an inclusive, accessible event too.
From providing resources and programs online to increase accessibility for regional students, and students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access our programs, to setting aside a designated quiet space for event attendees who are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed, to bringing on a more diverse and representative round of speakers and panelists, to combatting hustle culture and toxic productivity narratives at our events, we’re looking for as many ways we can to make our events and programs accessible, inclusive, representative, and empowering experiences for all students, regardless of their backgrounds or experiences.
Young people don’t want to be passive consumers of content and information - they want to be directly involved in shaping what they learn and gain experience in, to prepare themselves for the future of their education. We’ve received submissions and suggestions from students, educators, entrepreneurs, world-class leaders, and innovators on the content of our events - and all our topics are backed by research on what young people need, and what they want to see.
Our Youth Advisory Board has played a pivotal part in determining what we’ll be talking about in our events and programs - as has past feedback from earlier conferences. We’re looking forward to the value that our Youth Advisors can continue to add in 2022 and beyond, and to incorporating and advocating for more youth voices in decision making.
THE key transferable skill for the future of work is effective communication - and young people are reflecting a drive to learn strategies, tools, and gain confidence to communicate effectively with peers and colleagues. The responses we’ve gathered from our Youth Advisory Board indicate that young people see leadership and communication as going hand-in-hand. We want to be working with young people to become collaborative, effective team leaders - not just individualistic leaders. In a hyper-connected world, we believe some of the key leadership skills we need to be teaching - networking, empathy, analysis - all come back to effective verbal and written communication.
So, we’re working with our world-class facilitation team to pull together resources and learnings for young people who want to be better communicators - and we can’t wait to share them in our 2022 event series.