Skills & Certifications

Tools to strengthen youth skill development

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Preparing youth to thrive in an ever-changing world requires intentional focus on skill development.

Development should take place as early as possible in a young person’s life.

Recent findings show out-of-school-time programs are helping to close the gaps between the skills and competencies most youth develop in school and those employers need.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America defines essential skills as those that help youth become effective, engaged and adaptive learners who are on track to graduate with a plan. This includes academic, post-secondary readiness, social-emotional and employability skills. For teens, having tools and knowledge to navigate what they want to do – and what skills must develop to be ready for their next steps – is critical.

Staff use targeted programs, experiences, activities, and interactions with youth to build essential skills through experiential and environmental learning. Clubs should also seek partnerships that broaden youth access to skill development opportunities throughout youths’ Club Experience.

Strategies and practices collected from Clubs to develop social-emotional and employability skills

Strategies & Practices


Get regular input from young people on what they want to learn or experience to tailor your programming to meet their interests and needs.


Be intentional in selecting and delivering programming that develops skills for seeking and securing a job and the employability skills to keep any job.


Vary programming with field trips and special events that give young people more real-world exposure to workplaces, diverse professionals and postsecondary education options.


Don’t hesitate to experiment with the scheduling, duration, structure and content of programming to fit your setting and ensure your participants emerge work ready.


Do an assessment to better understand the employment challenges and needs of your community and identify the existing infrastructure.


Enable teens to complete required training and exams to earn industry-specific entry-level certifications, such as first aid/CPR, food handling, nursing assistant, phlebotomy, information technology, welding and warehouse logistics.


Have one or more staff members dedicated to designing and delivering workforce readiness programs that build young people’s employability and technical skills.


Have a staff member dedicated to developing partnerships with Club board members and other diverse professionals, government agencies, schools and companies, for purposes such as serving as job shadowing sites and providing funding for technical training.