EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2016. Is it possible to help refugees train for jobs and at the same time respond to actual job market needs? NGO Co.P.E. - Cooperazione Paesi Emergenti in Italy shows that such a programme is not only feasible, but also brings tangible benefits to all interested parties.
The article series shares good practices by introducing the nominees of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2016.
Born out of a need for new and inclusive labour policies, Job & Training: Instrument of Integration was a project implemented by NGO Co.P.E. - Cooperazione Paesi Emergenti and funded by the Sicilian Regional Authority through the European Social Fund. The two-year project not only helped refugees gain specific professional skills, but also involved a number of indirect beneficiaries, such as local administration, social services and targeted businesses. The success of the project can partially be explained by the structural approach adopted by Co. P.E., who divided the project into five macro phases.
Thorough research was needed to analyse the employment situation of refugees in Sicily. The next step involved linguistic and professional trainings, the latter in the field of agriculture and catering. Each of the professional trainings lasted 220 hours and related to the preparation of regional dishes and production and packaging of agricultural products, respectively.
While the trainings continued, refugees were provided with a career orientation, one that would respond to their interests and skills, for example explaining how to open a mini-enterprise. To make sure all participants are able to attend the classes regularly, Co.P.E. also organized a day care for their children if necessary. The fourth stage of the project saw the participants do internships at agricultural farms, a catering enterprise or a restaurant.
Co. P.E. considers dissemination of the results to be the fifth stage of the project, and they are indeed impressive. After the internship, 25% of participants received a permanent job; 30% started collaborating with the hosting organization on an occasional basis. The remaining group found work in third companies or opened up a business, either in Italy or in their home country.
The organisation seems to have been successful in reaching two major objectives set at the beginning: helping refugees achieve relevant skills and work experience in two specific fields as well as promoting socio-professional integration of a population largely excluded from the job market. It remains to be seen whether similar initiatives will spring up elsewhere and prove that such a programme can bring about changes also on a larger scale.
Text: Aleksandra Kozyra
Photos: Job & Training project