To gain access to the labor market it is essential for our work to establish networks on the labor market. Those networks include not only employers but also trade unions, employer organizations, Public Employment Service (PES) and other VET-providers. Those networks have to be based on honest relations, whereas it is crucial to have a complete honest approach when “marketing” this target group since they are not all that attractive for the labor market.
Many of our participants have a long history of unemployment and they are holding on to a labor market that no longer exists. Their skills and competence are obsolete on the labor market of today.
One of our tasks is to acquire “on the job” training possibilities for our participants, to establish and maintain a network of employers who are willing to provide this for our participants. It is important to make sure that the employers know what is expected of them, that this is about training and not about production or cheap labor. Thus it is very important to have regular follow-ups on those training places.
In this process we use different sets of tools, ranging from traditional and often mandatory activities determined by our assigners. This could be activities that aim at finding the shortest and quickest way to a new job. To have a new and relevant job-application according to standards of today, to find out what prerequisite our participants have in terms of basic education when needed. We also work with group activities to raise motivation and self-esteem.
But most of our work is done on an individual level with the participants and in this process, the need for raising motivation and self-esteem is more apparent. In these situations, it is of most importance to gain trust from our participants, to make them feel confident enough to be able to express their barriers, their problems and their true needs in terms of being able to take steps and action towards their real goals, and not the goals they think they have to achieve. Depending on the individual we use a variety of tools, like the Life Curve, SWOT-analysis, Case Method and GROW as they are, or in combination depending on the process. The core sentence is that it is the individual participant who owns the process. Our role is to support where necessary to make the participant utilize his or her expertise on their own situation.
For our target group, the most important feature is trust. Many of our participants have bad experiences from former education and from their time at PES where they often felt dependent and inferior, partly due to a rigorous set of regulations from the government regarding unemployment.
In the learning process, it’s important to get our participants involved to an extent were they can see the benefit of learning and gaining knowledge about certain topics related to their desired work situation. To see the good in communication skills, to be able to use certain programmes connected to ICT, to calculate percent, to read and understand a blueprint etc.
The main challenges for us in this line of work are to “keep in touch with reality”, to be able to find ways to a change in attitudes with individuals who have accepted unemployment as a way of life, and adapted to “lesser” circumstances in terms of private economy, social life and being more dependent instead of independent.