Training to fit a job vs training to enhance freedom: Computer skills and social activism in the youth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Youth training courses for the labour market try to provide technical skills to students in order to help them improve their chances to find a job. However, when a young person is looking for a job due to great economic urgency, this pressure may inhibit considerations of what they value. This may cause the young woman or man to ignore what they would like to achieve in life, in order to get an income. The capabilities approach (CA) (Sen 1999, Nussbaum 2000) focuses on the freedom individuals have to be or do the things they themselves have reason to value. According to the CA, this situation could be understood as adaptive preferences, because the young learn to lower their aspirations in line with their perceived life chances, finally getting into the vicious circle of accepting any offer of a paid job just to have a salary. This paper draws on empirical work in Brazil to discuss the need for a more holistic and critical approach to youth training programs. While technical skills, such as computer skills, are important, but there are also other skills, such as teamwork, initiative and leadership, which are also necessary. Moreover, from a CA perspective, young people should be supported in processes aimed at helping them understand what they value and have reason to value, in order to plan ahead what would be necessary for them to do to achieve them. For this reason, this paper presents the initial results of a case study focusing on the NGO and training agency Committee of Democratisation of Information (CDI) in Campinas, Brazil. This NGO’s methodology intends to provide their students with more than computer skills, by encouraging also teamwork, social activism and citizenship. Inspired by the work of Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire, this NGO promotes critical awaking as a value to fight poverty and thus represents a radical alternative to conventional youth work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTraining to fit a job vs training to enhance freedom: Computer skills and social activism in the youth
PublisherRoyal Geographical Society (with IBG)
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013
EventRGS-IBG Annual International Conference - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Aug 201330 Aug 2013


ConferenceRGS-IBG Annual International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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