Fit4Jobs Project Manager Manus Hanratty was invited by Telecentre Europe to their annual conference in Belgrade on 24th September, to speak on behalf of his organisation FIT Ltd and the Fit4Jobs project at the “Empowering youth for employability” session.
Speaking on behalf of his own organisation but also the NGOs/non-profits currently leading the Fit4Jobs project pilots (in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Latvia and Lithuania), M. Hanratty started by saying that employability is hard to define because it often depends on who is defining it. Many young people who are unemployed even see employability as “a wall that stands between them and a good job.” They picture it as an obstacle they need to climb over. But breaking it down, employability is about knowledge, and competition and skills- and all these can be learned.
Learning about how to design a good CV is only one example of the concrete skills present on the employability wall (see image 1 above). Often young people are not aware of the importance of such skills and unwritten “norms” in the world of work. This is why Fit4Jobs is all about putting the soft skills at the same level as hard or technical skills.
Most importantly, Fit4jobs provides a holistic approach: finding someone who is young and unemployed and then taking them or her through the journey until they actually have a job. As he clearly pointed out, when going on this journey with young people is its crucial not to stop at the point when students are considered employable but rather when they are employed.
‘Employer engagement’ is now a buzz word in the world of employability but this is exactly what Fit4Jobs is about. Organisations working with young unemployed people really do need to be in contact with actual employers. These organisations are only effective when they provide courses on skills that are in demand from the job market. They can then involve employers by asking them to define the curriculum of these courses or to get engaged in any other way: funding the programme, providing technology, offering site visits in their premises, mentoring, work experience projects, and/or taking in students for job placements.
Other important elements of the model worth mentioning are follow up and government support. The first one refers to the staying in touch and following the students for 3 years after the training. From this FIT Ltd have seen that after 3 years up to 75% of students are in work. The financial suppot form the national or local government is also key. All this makes it possible to achieve spectacular results: FIT Ltd has trained 16000 young unemployed people in Ireland , of which 12000 have jobs today.
By Masha Tarle