OUTBURSTS OF EMOTIONS AND LAUGHTER REPLACED EMBARRASSMENT

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More than a dozen determined mothers left the Kaleidoscope Competence pilot course with new experience, helpful advice and, in many cases, also with regained self-confidence. The busy course programme helped a heterogeneous group of women (mothers with small children, Roma women, university graduates) to map their abilities and skills. Course participants met at the Office of the Public Defender of Rights in Brno for 4 days in late May and early June 2017.

Although at the beginning of the course most women were too shy to talk about themselves and their lives, the last day showed how little could help to a mutual trust and openness. An interactive form of the course and an active and dynamic approach on the part of lecturers raised an interest and broke barriers among women. They received a positive feedback from lecturers and also from other course participants which brought another dose of encouragement.

The course was primarily about recognizing one´s strengths. Tasks and activities helped participants to identify abilities and skills that they could apply in the labour market. Women often underestimated themselves – but the course showed to them that even childcare could help to develop important skills. For example the ability to organize time and work is a key characteristic necessary not only for mothers, but also for people in managerial positions.

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On one of the 4 course days the lecturers gave the floor to an HR specialist Denisa Janatová from a personal agency Advantage Consulting. She explained, for instance, what to avoid when writing one´s CV or how to make the CV impressive. She also described what a job interview might look like. Women learnt inter alia that an employer or HR person should not ask about a family situation, pregnancy or sexual orientation.

Participants had the chance to practise a job interview. It took the form of a “quick date”. Women had to find out as much information as possible about their counterparts in just a few minutes. They practised both the role of an employer and a job seeker. Tricky questions from real job interviews were included. Thus women were able to go through a test job interview and prepare themselves for unpleasant situations or questions.

Lecturers Kateřina Hodická and Kateřina Kelarová concluded the course by awarding certificates to participants. Besides them the women took home a lot of experience, useful pieces of advice and a smile on their lips.

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Author: Nikola Málková

COMPETENCE KALEIDOSCOPE OR HOW A PILOT COURSE RAN

A few days ago an international meeting was held in Brno in the Czech Republic. The meeting was attended by four organizations involved in the Competence Kaleidoscope project. Representatives of the organisations analyzed together the pros and cons of pilot courses that had run in their respective organisations. I spoke to the head of the Akropolis Center in Uherské Hradiště Jitka Janíková and to Marta Chabadová from the organisation Miesto pod Slnkom located in Kosice. The interview reveals their opinions and experience of the project.

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What is your opinion of the Competence Kaleidoscope project?

Jitka: The idea of the project originated in our organization when we were looking for ways to prepare better our target group (parents returning to the labour market after maternity /parental leave) for a return to the labour market. We came to the conclusion that the most important was to be aware of one´s strong points and to train their presentation. That’s why I think this project is important and meaningful.

Marta: I think it’s an amazing thing. In Slovakia I have not experienced so far anything that would resemble this systematic approach to the unemployed. And I even feel that there are no agencies that would professionally deal with this issue. Maybe in big cities, in Bratislava, in Košice, but certainly not in regions where there are smaller towns.

How do you perceive the cooperation with other organizations in drafting this project?

Jitka: The collaboration in the project preparation and in its implementation was and is without any problems. Partners are aware of their responsibilities and tasks.

Marta: It was excellent. I was excited. For me the language barrier was a bit more problematic because I’m not so fluent in English or German. I think that our foreign partners took this into consideration.

Had you tried the course before piloting it?

Jitka: No. We gained our first experience only during the first pilot course.

Marta: Yes, but it was not as successful as the pilot course. We had problems of an organizational character. We had quite a problem with collecting participants. Some women preferred to meet in the morning while others opted for the afternoon. Though we looked for various suitable schemes, some clients gradually left. Even though they wanted to make up for missed course hours, there was no room for it.

What was your target group in the pilot course?

Jitka: Our target group is formed by parents on maternity and parental leave, parents of small children and also people above 50 years of age.

Marta: Our clients were women on a long parental leave and university graduates who had not had a job yet and faced difficulties in the labour market.

How do you assess your work with them?

Jitka: Very well. Our target group is in most cases collaborating. It actively participates in individual activities and our participants want to work on themselves.

Marta: Also very well. We created a group of people who have a long-standing problem. We work in the region with a relatively high unemployment and therefore the course was very beneficial for participants. We learned even from the feedback that the participants were enthusiastic and that it would be very beneficial if the project was to continue for other target groups.

Did any complications occur during the course?

Jitka: I would not call it a complication. Certainly our job was made difficult by bad timekeeping of some clients with small children and also by the fact that one client had missed one module.

Marta: There was a problem with competence cards because we received a bad translation. The cards were translated from German to English, from English to Czech and then to Slovak. We had to translate them into the Slovak language because it was difficult for some clients to understand the Czech meaning of notions on competence cards. For example, we had a card that was translated as a social commitment, which I myself had the problem of understanding what it meant. And when we translated it from the English version, we found out that it was more like a social mission, which is quite different. Sometimes it happened to us that we lacked some competencies that clients knew they had but were not listed anywhere.

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What were reactions of your target group?

Jitka: Reactions were very positive. Participants appreciated both the content and the way of implementation. The fact that the course is practical was appreciated as well. Participants are  forced to think about themselves and have to work on themselves. And every day they left with some new experience.

Marta: Our target group expressed a great satisfaction.

What about writing profiles for your clients?

Jitka: It was not at all easy to write a profile. If you know somebody for a short time, it is very difficult to sketch his or her profile. In addition, as a lecturer you have to write only facts, not your assumptions. However there is often no chance to verify the assumption.

Marta: It was difficult to write them. It is not easy to find the right words in order not to  offend anyone nor to praise too much. My colleague helped me with the profiles and I think we managed to write them in the way that they satisfy our clients.

Where do you see the merit of the project?

Jitka: If the project fulfils its goal, i.e. to develop a simple and financially low-cost method that will lead a client through the process of identifying, naming and understanding his or her  own competencies, of their internalisation and connection with the labour market, I will be satisfied.

Marta: I can see it in promoting self-confidence and in preparing for the labour market. I think the project also encourages a creative aspect and value in people and thus it opens up new perspectives. We had one silent and shy participant who opened herself thanks to the course and realized her strengths. She changed from a diffident and insecure creature shaken by her life to a person who realized her value. That was our great success.

Would you change anything in the project?

Jitka: Not in the project as such. After one and a half year´s project duration I might change some of the steps we had made.

Marta: From an organizational aspect, I might shorten intervals between individual training days. Anything can happen in the course of one month when the training takes place. Things might happen both to participants and lecturers. We also talked about the problem of engaging men in this course. It is designed in a way that the course is primarily for women. In my opinion, a man will not share his problems and failures, especially when there are mostly women in the course and only one or two men. I think it would be helpful to adjust the course so that it is suitable for men as well. I would recommend to focus more on a practical side, such as preparing a CV, getting ready for an interview or how to work with job advertisements. I would definitely adjust the terminology used in the course which can be difficult for people with a lower education level.

Did the course meet your expectations?

Jitka: The aim of the course was to verify the method, test individual activities whether they work or not. This has been achieved, we have a lot of comments and suggestions for changes. In this respect, the course certainly fulfilled my expectations. Some of my concerns were confirmed, others were refuted.

Marta: Yes, sure.

What did the course bring to you personally?

Jitka: I certainly met a lot of interesting people and learnt about their fates. From a lecturer´s point of view, I tested new activities and techniques. I lectured the course together with my colleague and we found out that it was amazing to lecture the course in two. Lecturers can complement each other, one leads a group and the other can check the time schedule, reactions of participants etc. It’s just a piece of cake.

Marta: An interesting question. The course work was unique and different from what I normally do. It was inspiring to watch participants how they work on themselves. I would like to continue this work because I think it has a sense. I had a good feeling of a well accomplished work.

Robin Stejskal

COMPETENCE KALEIDOSCOPE

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A Competence Kaleidoscope course is just being held in the premises of the Public Defender of Rights. The course aims to help disadvantaged people to find their way back to the labour market. When looking around, I have the impression that lecturers in contrast to participants abound in calmness and confidence. The lecturers had recently tested the method with a group of secondary school students and so they will be able to use the gained experience with a new group of participants.

The course participants involve women and men of different nationalities. Some ran away from the war and others wanted to start a new life. Each of them carries his or her own story. Some stories are sad and others are full of hope. However all the participants share one thing, they wish to find work in the Czech Republic. To reach this aim, they are supported by lecturers Kateřina Hodická, Kateřina Kelarová and Barbara Dobešová.

As there are people from different countries, cultures and with various customs, I really wonder what the course will look like. There is, for example, a woman from Mexico. She would like to open her own café. Thanks to the course she should realize whether she has the right abilities and skills to reach the predetermined goal. Other course participants are e.g. a woman from India, Syrian family, Nigerian man who with his robust figure calls for an appropriate respect. I would like to know what his story is about.

3An introduction is going on. A man from Nigeria introduces himself first. His name is Akintola. He has a big smile on his lips. I find out that he is a very friendly and sociable person who, like me, loves cats. He was forced to leave his home country and his family due to his dangerous work and applied for asylum in the Czech Republic.

Gradually other participants are introducing themselves. Their initial nervousness is slowly fading away as the entire course is run in a friendly and informal atmosphere. My early worries and concerns regarding a cultural heterogeneity of the group appear to be useless.

It is not surprising for me that in one of the following activities Akintola chooses a kangaroo as an animal he would like to be. Similarly to kangaroos he feels the need to protect his children. As most course participants are parents, sometimes their playful offspring run around me. Just now they are sitting in front of me on the carpet and drawing. Though each child speaks a different language, painting unites them. When this activity stops to entertain them, they use crayons as building blocks for the construction of houses. Who knows, perhaps children will discover hidden talents for architecture or painting during the course.

4Meanwhile one of the lecturers is telling a story about a bowman and his arrow written by Jorge Bucay. The story´s purpose is to explain to participants that it is always important to set first a goal one wants to achieve. Having the goal in mind one will be able to find a job that fulfils him or her.

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During the course participants also try practical things. Course participants are also instructed on how to behave at a job interview. Then they are divided into groups and play the role model of an employer looking for ideal employees. In this context they should think of key characteristics that will be required for a particular job. Later on they all try the role of an interviewee.

And how do participants themselves assess the whole programme? At the end of the course they all look happy and are smiling in front of a camera. They also receive an evaluation form from lecturers. The feedback given by the participants is largely positive and comments that the participants make can help lecturers to improve the course further. Some participants mention in the questionnaire that the course was truly beneficial and express that similar courses should run in the future. Nothing can please lecturers more than praise for a well performed and sensible work.

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Author: Robin Stejskal

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Meeting in Linz

In the Austrian town of Linz, representatives of the four project partners got together in the train the trainer programme lasting from September 19 to 23, 2016.

Training participants were actively involved in sessions of eight hours a day that took place in the headquarters of migrare Zentrum für MigrantenInnen OÖ. Participants went through the Competence Kaleidoscope methodology that is being prepared in the project for various target groups of socially disadvantaged people. In detail, they discussed advantages and disadvantages of each module and its individual elements and came up with various suggestions and proposals for further improvements. They also tested some of the methodology elements on themselves.

Elements of “storytelling” used in the course present an enriching feature of the course. Exemplary situations always carry a substantial meaning in themselves and can be a source of inspiration or food for thought for clients.

All discussions were conducted in the English language in a very pleasant, creative and cooperative atmosphere under the leadership of Lisa and Florian from migrare. In the coming weeks, experts from the partner organizations will endeavour to make further refinements of the methodology concerned before the first round of pilot tests. They are in fact postponed till the beginning of 2017 and will be run in all partner organisations.

A lively discussion with a psychologist from migrare presented an important part of the train the trainer programme. The psychologist responded to questions regarding emotionally charged moments that could occur during the course.

Last but not least, the stay in Linz was livened up with a cultural programme. All team members had the possibility to taste local cuisine and get to know some of town jewels during a pleasant tourist train ride. They could also enjoy a magnificent view of the city and the Danube river during a trip to Pöstlingberg.

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Competence Kaleidoscope method being lounched

Last few months, our Austrian colleagues Lisa Filzmoser and Florian Hinterberger, aided by in-house experts and the generous support of their colleagues,have been developing the new competence mapping method „Competence Kaleidoscope“. Starting with the first data collection in Uherské Hradiště in October 2015, they have been busily working to develop a new method suitable for our main target groups, socially disadvantaged with lower education and low self-esteem.

The development was a very intense process, taking into consideration data from the clients and trainers of the four partner organizations, discussions with trainers and various experts and experience from other competence mapping methods such as CH-Q. They also did extensive research on existing methods, both in literature and in practice.

After 5 months of research and data collection, they finally developed a core concept for the new method. It was agreed the method will have a modular structure, in order to make the usage as flexible as possible. There are 7 different modules, each lasting for about 4 hours, covering a wide range of topics, from working on ones own biography and the self- and public image, to formulating goals and planning steps towards them.

The greatest benefit of the method is it minimizes the amount of written work for our clients. Most of the existing competence mapping methods require a lot of writing, which makes them unsuitable for our target groups. We incorporated various materials, such as the Competence Cards by the Bertelsmann-Stiftung, games, role-plays and many other artistic ways of expression, in order to serve the needs of our target groups and make “Competence Kaleidoscope” an extraordinary experience!

The next step comes now in September, when the future trainers will come to Linz to be trained in the new method for one week. After this training session, each partner organization will hold several courses for clients, which will be evaluated for the restructuring phase following afterwards.

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Euroguidance seminar in Potsdam on the integration of migrants and minorities in the labour market

In June 2016, Lenka Introvič represented GIC NORA at the international seminar called Cross Cultural and International Careers Guidance – Integrating Migrants and Minorities. The seminar hosted by the Euroguidance programme took place in the German city of Potsdam from June 1 to 2, 2016.

More than 100 attendees and participants representing mainly non-profit sector, schools, universities and employment offices from 11 European countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Portugal Austria, Romania, Slovenia and Serbia) discussed the integration of migrants and minorities in the labour market.
We will use the acquired knowledge in this very project. E.g. we will use the so- called competence cards in mapping skills and abilities of our clients.

Presentations from individual workshops that took place within the international seminar in Potsdam can be found here.

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