Community Development: Hone Your Skills

Community Development

By using the skills you have learned in higher education you can help to uplift, support and develop your local community and create meaningful change. Read more to find out what community development is and how you can get involved. 

You may think that your higher education degree has only honed you for a career in financial management, accounting, journalism or chemistry.  However, many skills you learn from higher education are skills you learn intrinsically and are not only useful to your own career but also in your community, for community development.  These skills are vital to the development of your community and to creating lasting social change.

What are these skills and how can you sharpen these skills to help develop and uplift communities?

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are the skills you use to interact with others. In higher education, your interpersonal skills are learned through how you handle group-work projects and how you respond to your classmates, lecturers or tutors.

Having good interpersonal skills means you have a good knowledge of social expectations and customs. This allows you to take the reactions and feelings of people around you into account and to adjust tactics and communication as needed. Interpersonal skills, developed at Pearson, are more than simply being polite or kind.  It is a type of social intelligence that requires you to be very aware of the people around you and how they are reacting to the environment.

EduConnect’s suggestion on how to use interpersonal skills in your local community:

Community leaders and community development workers often require help to reach out to the communities around them. This is one of the ways that you can use your interpersonal skills to help develop your community:

Visit your local old age home

Offer to spend a few hours every week talking to and listening to the older generation in your local old age facility. Many of the older people in old age facilities are lonely and need people to communicate with. By approaching your local old age facility and offering to spend time with the older people, you can make a massive difference in their lives.

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Critical Thinking

Critical thinking equips you with the knowledge on what to do or believe in any given situation. If you have ever encountered a very difficult assignment which required you to work hard to complete – you will know the importance of critical thinking.

However, critical thinking also applies to our interactions with people and requires us to think critically and without judgement about the lives of others. Critical thinking skills, developed at institutions such as Pearson, help you to construct and evaluate arguments to solve problems creatively and logically. It also helps you to reflect on your own beliefs, values and understandings by thinking carefully about your own opinions.

EduConnect’s suggestion on how you can use critical thinking to develop your community:

Help out at a local homeless shelter

Offer to help at a local homeless shelter with whatever tasks they might require. You may be tasked with doing washing, cooking food or even talking to people. Community organisations that rely on volunteer work often suffer from lack of staff, funds and skills. By offering to help out in non-profit organisations, you can provide much needed aid to organisations and people who are desperate for help.

Helping at a homeless shelter requires critical thinking and positivity. You will need to suspend your own opinions and judgements about people and assess in a creative and critical manner ways in which you can help to raise funds, improve the quality of life and understand people better.

Communication

It is important to be able to communicate with your classmates, lecturers, tutors and friends. Effective communication is not simply about speaking well and being understood, but also about listening to and understanding those around you.

Effective communication also helps you to navigate stressful conflict situations by helping you to stay calm and communicate clearly. This is particularly important for helping you to navigate conflict situations in your friend and family groups, as well as in your university and community.

EduConnect’s suggestion for how you can use effective communication to create change in your community:

Visit your local teen rehab centre

As a young person or student, you have the unique ability to communicate effectively with people your own age. This may be particularly useful in mentoring and communicating with students and young people who have not made good decisions.

Offer to help out at your local adolescent rehab centre in whatever way you can and spend time communicating with the young people there. Rather than offering advice, spend time talking to them about their favourite movies, music and activities. Remember that effective communication is as much about talking as it is about listening.

Where can I learn these skills?

Pearson Institute is one of the largest private education companies in South Africa. They operate in over 70 countries, publish in over 58 African languages and offer many different degrees and higher education options.

Pearson Institute is the perfect place to develop the skills required to assist in community development because at Pearson Institute, your preparation for the world of work starts from the moment you enroll. Pearson Institute offers career-focused qualifications, collaborative teaching methods, and employability resources and services, all of which assist in ensuring you are ready to embark on community development.

How do I learn these skills?

  • Choosing a qualification
    It all starts with selecting a qualification that suits you and what you want to achieve. Pearson Institute has Higher Education Consultants available to assist you with this important first step and making the right decision for you.
  • Qualification-specific internships, work integrated learning and practical projects
    As part of Pearson Institute’s curricula, many of the qualifications have a required work experience or practical component. For the degree programmes, you either complete work integrated learning (WIL) in your third year in an industry appropriate organisation, or you complete qualification-led community or business projects that will give you practical experience. In their shorter programmes, you will complete projects based on real world case studies.
  • Volunteering
    Some of the Pearson Institute qualifications have facilities and services where you can gain work experience by volunteering. Not only does volunteering benefit the community, it is the perfect place to get work experience. In addition, volunteering for subject specific projects and general work related activities is a great networking opportunity and another route to broadening your career options.
  • Development of Transferrable Skills
    Pearson Institute is one of the only higher education spaces with a focus on developing graduates who have transferrable skills. Pearson believes that their graduates should be able to communicate effectively, use relevant technology and work with diverse people in different groups which also makes you more competitive and ready for the world of work.
  • Employability Centres
    Pearson Institute is aware that looking for work after graduation can be challenging. For this reason, Pearson provides Employability Centres on seven of their campuses and one virtual centre for students to access remotely. They provide a team of dedicated advisors who are there to help you make informed career choices and offer general career advice. The advisors also organise a range of training, networking and information sessions, experiential training, transition skills workshops and mock interview practice sessions.

EduConnect 2Cents

The skills that you learn at higher education institutes are important for all aspects of life and particularly for community development. Community development is an important aspect of everyone’s lives because it ensures a that there is a better community for all. Using the skills you learn at a higher education institution, helps to create a more welcoming and democratic community for all. As learners from higher education institutions we should work hard to create lasting and meaningful change in our communities in whatever way we can.

As Howard Zinn once said:

“small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

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