Youth Connect Foundation – Picturebook Guesthouse
By Shane Rabideau
In the border-town of Mae Sot, Thailand, local youth have the possibility to gain professional hands-on experience in innovative ways. What started as a youth employment research project in 2007 turned into the Youth Connect Foundation (YCF): a non-profit aimed at providing Thai and Myanmar youth in Mae Sot with vocational training.
The research project results were multi-layered: Businesses in Mae Sot voiced a need for more reliable and trained employees, while youth entering the job market needed more opportunities for quality employment, but lacked the skills or qualifications for such positions. The gap between youth and employers was identified and a bridge began to take shape in the form of the YCF.
In 2008, the YCF initiated two programmes to bridge the gap: Transitions and Picturebook Guesthouse. Transitions is composed of in-school training at migrant high schools, a 12-week intensive training tailored to a chosen field, a three-month apprenticeship at a local business and a career centre to assist with permanent job placement and career advice. Students now have the opportunity to gain vocational training with over 70 local business partners and organisations.
Students now have the opportunity to gain vocational training with over 70 local business partners and organisations.
With the support of Child’s Dream, YCF opened the doors of the Picturebook Guesthouse: a hospitality training centre for apprentices. Students are involved in every aspect of running a guesthouse, from hospitality to business operations, while offering a comfortable stay for guests whose bottom dollar goes right back into the foundation.
Guests have been overwhelmingly moved by the intentional social development goals of Picturebook Guesthouse. Ever since it opened its doors, Picturebook Guesthouse has been receiving heartwarming reviews while ranking number 1 continually on TripAdvisor.
YCF will continue to bridge the gap between youth and employers in Mae Sot by helping students to gain hands-on experience enabling them to land quality employment with local businesses.