European senior Volunteering through mentoring for the social inclusion of Young people in difficulties
In today’s society, high youth unemployment rates reflect difficulties faced by young people in finding a job. This problem is amplified in young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or with fewer opportunities, at risk of marginalisation, and suggests a hypothesis of change in systems of working, in relationship between generations and in training paths.
The EvolYou project contributes to improve the level of key competences and skills, with particular regard to their relevance for labour market and their contribution to a cohesive society, in particular through strengthened cooperation between the world of education and training and the world of work. Specifically, it aims to intervene on the marginalisation and social exclusion phenomena, favoring active inclusion of disadvantaged young people aged 15-30 into labour market and consequently in society. This objective is achieved through a training path of participated involvement of senior expert volunteers in an intergenerational mentoring environment. The path contributes to upskill youngsters and bring them closer to work introduction systems, sharpening their soft and employability skills, so countering their conditions of fragility and disadvantage; furthermore it helps to develop the contribution of senior population to society.
The starting point of the project is a good practice successfully applied in Germany for more than 10 years, the VerA initiative of the Senior Experten Service. Following the sharing of this initiative in a previous Erasmus+ KA202 project exchanging practices on voluntary work in the field of VET, some partners decided to transfer this good practice to their respective countries, but applying it to different targets of beneficiaries according to local needs. Thus the project realises the scaling up of the VerA initiative, bringing it in other EU countries where it still does not exist, to cater for the needs of young people in difficulties and to deal with differences in learning outcomes linked to social disparities, by cooperating with the responsible actors in the VET field of the respective Member States. This is done through a Strategic Partnership involving 6 countries and 9 partners active in the volunteering field.
The partners develop a Didactic Experimentation, tested in 4 of the 6 countries on about 80-90 mentors and about 130 disadvantaged young people, specialising the target groups based on geographical area of belonging: in Italy, young migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, aged 18-30; in Spain, young people aged 16-20 undergoing Basic Vocational Training with special educational needs or with persistent economic problems and a low socio-economic level; in France, apprentices and students in vocational education who have difficulties to follow their training and risk dropping out, aged 15-25 (most of whom with a profile very similar to NEETs); in Finland, migrants, low qualified apprentices and VET dropping out students, aged 18-30. The participant youngsters take part in the pilot test through training courses and Living Labs of mentoring in tandem, finding a mentor from the specific branch they are interested in.
During 22 months of project, the partnership produces a Methodological Manual for implementing a new model of social inclusion by “redesigning the future in tandem”; the Didactic Experimentation in 4 European countries and the related curricula; and a Paper providing a series of Recommendations to influence the political discussion on volunteering, mentoring and the intergenerational cooperation at both national and European level. The project realises also a transnational mobility, with the goal to familiarize an interdisciplinary team of senior experts on intergenerational mentoring, starting from the experience of the VerA initiative.
The main result of the project is the mentoring methodological model of social inclusion valid in Europe, which can favour the insertion of young people in difficulties into the world of work and can be maintained beyond the end of the project.
The major expected impact involves enhancing the employability perspectives of target groups, by strengthening link among the youth field, senior volunteering and the labour market. Youngsters countering their conditions of fragility and disadvantage, by increasing their set of soft and employability skills and approaching themselves in a more conscious way the work introduction systems. In turn, senior experts strengthen their active contribution to society, making a service to themselves and to the community. In the long run, the project supports the alignment of the educational and training system to the needs of the labour market in terms of new skills for the future employees, closing the gap between education and businesses. In particular VET institutions can replicate or custom within their educational systems the new training path, adopting innovative approaches geared to social inclusion.