The current economic climate in Europe contributes that youth unemployment in recent years has increased. In Sicily the rate of youth unemployment is over 50% and for pupils out of the practical education the numbers are even higher. Mismatches between education curricula and labour market needs increase the risk of educational failure and early school leaving as pupils lack prospects within their chosen educational pathway.
AIM OF THE PROJECT
Aim of the HanDS project is to develop an integrated innovative approach to prevent current pupils to be unemployed and get stuck at home, and to reengage people in education and training who have had their education interrupted due to various reasons. Objectives are the development of:
- a measuring system to categorize pupils and job seekers in order to offer them the rightful attention and guidance.
- a suitable employment/internship programme for pupils to gain as much as possible practice work experience in a short period as possible (internship carousel).
- a connection between the (warm) school and the (cold) labour market through the development of two new school environments: a labour-based training centre and a labour-based evening school.
- web based “guidelines” based on the job carving principle.
In order to reach this aim secondary schools from The Netherlands (DE WISSEL) and Italy (Ten R. Righetti) decided to join forces. Although schools play an important role in addressing these problems they cannot and should not work in isolation. These problems need an integrated approach consisting of a right mixture of prevention, intervention and compensation measures. Therefore two work development organisations with a direct link to the labour market were added to the consortium: SURPLUS (The Netherlands) and EEPL (Germany).
The HanDS partners have structured the project into a number of Work Packages that are all connected to each other. The starting point of all activities are the labour market needs. From an education point of view, these needs will be translated into the Internship carousel (WP2). In case pupils are not successful in this carousel they have the opportunity to gain additional competences in the Labour-based training centre (WP3). From a labour point of view, the labour market needs will be translated into the Web-based guidelines (WP4). In case former pupils/job seekers are missing essential competences, they can be trained in the Labour-based evening school (WP3). The Measurement system (WP1) that will be developed, can be used in all phases of the HanDS project to assess the strengths and weaknesses of pupils and job seekers and monitor the progress made.
For the development activities that will be executed, the partners intend to apply an iterative (cyclic) development methodology. This is a methodology based on an process of research, design, prototyping, testing, analysing and refining, and is well suited to the objectives and outputs. This methodology enables user feedback and continuous, iterative testing enables an objective assessment of the project’s status. The methodology proposed takes into account existing knowledge and practice available at the project partners.
LEARNING, TEACHNING & TRAINING ACTIVITIES
Within HanDS, four blended mobility activities and four short training events for education staff will be organised since these will bring added value in the achievement of the project objectives. Specific added value of the blended mobility possibility is that a short visit will be combined with the use of virtual mobility. This will offer the pupils with special needs and fewer opportunities the chance to take part in the joint project work within HanDS. By means of the visits of the pupils and teachers, the project activities executed so far can be discussed, tested and adjusted if necessary. During the exchanges the pupils and teachers will serve as a framework to see if the chosen path is the right one.
IMPACT OF HANDS
The overall impact envisaged is a reduction of the unemployment rate and number of ESL’s by realising a sustainable labour-market match. As a direct result of a reduction of the unemployment rate and number of ESL’s, public and social costs – such as costs related to healthcare, criminal justice and social benefit payments – will also be reduced. The desired (long-term) impact on a local, regional, national or even European level is to provide individuals with improved lifetime opportunities (such as better health, active citizenship, an improved social and democratic climate, better quality of education for the next generation) by obtaining a starting qualification or finding a job that fits.
Partners are convinced that an integrated approach that covers the spectrum between education and the labour market will serve as an example for many more similar organisations and the impact will be strong. The integrated approach will keep young people in school, offer maximum support where the dropout risk is acute and offer new labour market (and learning) opportunities for job seekers!