Pirot:Delegation of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Serbia visited Pirot
More than 50 percent of young people from the “Education to Employment” project got a job
Ursula Läubli, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Serbia, visited Pirot with her associates. There they were presented the results of employing young people in this town and in Knjaževac. The Swiss and Serbian Governments’ “Education to Employment“ programme is implemented in five towns, the two above mentioned towns including. The results that were presented show that, within previous year only, a half of all young people who attended the training within the programme have found a job.
Young people have the opportunity to take part in the “Education to Employment” programme which is supported by the Swiss Government with the aim to improve the economic development of Serbia and provide for faster employment.
Ursula Läubli, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Serbia, said that the project is primarily meant to support young people to increase their employability.
“We believed that it would be really beneficial for them to have this support and it is my great pleasure to see that they now have opportunity to undergo training for jobs in different companies,” Läubli said.
According to what she said, 300 young people in Pirot and Knjaževac had opportunity to use career counselling services, a hundred of them attended training in different companies for vocational profiles needed by the business sector, and as many as 60 of them got a job.
“This is about considerable and extensive efforts by all involved in this project. Switzerland is devoted to further provision of support to youth employment through the educational reform which implies the introduction of dual education. Since youth employment is a priority of the Serbian Government, it is our priority too. Therefore, in the coming period we will support the efforts of Serbia to establish losest possible cooperation between educational and business sector and thus pave a path to faster and larger employment,” the Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office said.
Main goal of the “Education to Employment” project is to raise the youth employability level through a model of mutual cooperation between local self-government, companies, schools, and NGOs. That is why it was really important that the representatives of all these sectors took part in the panel discussion in Pirot City Hall. They talked about the profiles which are scarce on the labour market and the problems regarding youth employment, as well as about the measures to support companies so as to raise employment.
On-the-job training is surely one of the most important measures. It is possible to implement it only thanks to the efforts of the project local partners: “Timočki klub” organisation in Knjaževac and ZIP Youth Centre and “Osveženje” citizens’ association in Pirot.
Mira Zlatkov, the representative of these Pirot associations said how pleased she was that the representatives of the Swiss Cooperation Agency, which is providing financial support to the “Education to Employment“ project, visited Pirot and learnt more about the activities and results in the implementation of the programme in this town.
The project has been implemented since 2016 in five towns in Serbia. The training in Pirot was implemented for six vocational profiles which are in deficit.
“Special funds have been allocated for raising the employability of less employable and vulnerable populations. In our case these included young Roma women who had no education at all or finished only primary school . eighty of them got some kind of support to acquire skills and knowledge demanded by the employers. The indicator of a job well done is that more than 50 percent of young people who completed the training got a job in the company in which they attended training or in other companies. There is no doubt that people who undergo this training have better chance to find employment“, Zlatkov said.
The representatives of Swiss delegation also visited local partners of the “Education to Employment“ programme in Pirot as well as companies in which young trainees will undergo training for some of the profiles in highest demand on the labour market – “JLB-Soulier” tool shop and “Stojanović” company.
Five towns, 22 projects
In the course of the first cycle of training 22 project were implemented, support on their journey to employment was provided to people younger than 30 who belong to less employable population – women victims of domestic violence, young people without parental care, young people from rural area, wards of correctional homes, young people with developmental disability, and the members of Roma community.
For the implementation of on-the-job training projects for jobs which local businessmen in five pilot towns – Kragujevac, Kruševac, Knjaževac, Novi Pazar, and Pirot – pointed out as being in deficit, the Swiss Government earmarked about EUR 400,000 in the first round of the “Opportunity“ Fund.
Further EUR 172,500 was earmarked for six programmes to support the employment of less employable young populations, and EUR 138,000 was allocated for the implementation of nine projects to test the innovative employment models in Serbia.
Testing of new employment methods takes place under the supervision of the Republic of Serbia’s Team for Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction in eight local communities – Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Rača, Pirot, Paraćin, Užice, and Sombor.
Kragujevac: Within the “Education to Employment“, an opportunity for employment was provided to women from Kragujevac who have been victims of domestic violence. A group of women from this vulnerable population attended on-the-job training for vocational profiles in high demand which opened for them room to become economic independent after they leave the Shelter. Mina Mijailović, project coordinator, the president of the Safety Oasis Kragujevac, spoke about the advantages of the training within the “Education to Employment“ programme, what it meant for women who had been victims of domestic violence, and how they became ‘different women’ after they finished the training.
“A survey which we conducted in Kragujevac in 2014 showed that only 37 percent of women victims of violence are employed. When asked why they cannot leave behind the violence, they state the economic dependence on their partner as a third reason, immediately following the protection of family and children. That made it clear that it is important to overcome the unemployment problem of women victims of domestic violence,“ Mijailović said.
“Education to Employment“ programme offered concrete solutions to women from this vulnerable group and, through their vocational training, increased their chances of getting a job.
On-the-job training for a group of 10 women was designed with employers, for the profiles in high demand on the labour market. Five women attended on-the-job training for assistant baker in My Bakery, two women were trained to become make-up artists, two women to become hair stylists, and one women was trained for a higher level of fluency in the English language.
“Our trainees were of poor educational background, they had only primary school or not even a complete primary school. One was a metal worker and one was nearing her university diploma in literature. Not a single one had work experience and all were jobless. After they left the Shelter, they faced the same problem – how to earn their living and become independent,“ people in the Safety Oasis said.
According to them, preparing women for their participation in the “Education to Employment“ training was a very sensitive and delicate endeavour because violence leaves deep psychological footprints on the victim making them distrustful, withdrawn, afraid, non-communicative, socially excluded.
“It is especially hard to empower a woman who was a victim of violence, to encourage her to start living autonomously and become financially independent. Within the “Education to Employment“ project we have worked simultaneously on their psychological and economic empowerment. First we had motivation and assertiveness workshops and women learnt how to communicate with their co-workers and employers. When they started on-the-job training at the employers’ they had individual workshops with our psychologist. We kept track of their motivation which was quite fluctuating in the beginning, we checked whether they were regularly attending the training, we talked with them about their experience from the training and their progress. Besides the individual work, we organised, during the training, group meetings in which the experience was shared and they supported each other,“ the president of the Safety Oasis said.
The beginning of the training was very hard for all trainees. They lacked self-confidence. That is we worked to encourage them to at least decide to enrol into the training. Some ‘justified’ their negative decision saying that there is nobody to take care of their children while they are on the training, that they will not manage well on the training, etc. However, after a bit of ‘convincing’, they started the on-the-job training.
“After two months of training at the employers’ they became different women, believe me. They were not the same women any longer. We in the Safety Oasis were also surprised to see how much they changed. They became more communicative and were in much better mood. Suzana (27), whom, due to her lack of self-confidence, we almost did not manage to persuade to start the training, accepted the training in a bakery so well that she would sometimes stay at work for two shifts, for 16 hours even. After she completed the training, Suzana stayed on to work at My Bakery in which she underwent training for assistant baker“.
After the training all women were different. People in the Safety Oasis say that the women who were withdrawn, distrustful, unsure of themselves, afraid that they will not be able to do it at the beginning gained confidence with time and learnt how to communicate and do a lot of jobs in the bakery.
“They gained courage and became more confident at the training. For instance, Milena, who also got employment in My Bakery, ceased renting an apartment to live with her kids and took courage from the training to provide a roof over their heads by adapting the attic of her parents’ home.“
In Safety Oasis they particularly highlighted good impressions from partnership with the employers at whose premises the training of women trainees took place. My Bakery was really responsive to the trainees and, in agreement with them, it defined the time schedule of the training. After the training, this employer offered a job to five trainees and the offer was accepted by Milena, Danijela, and Suzana.
“In such environment, trainees were well supported so they looked forward to every new lesson within the training. Every week, the employer notified us about their progress and, after the training was successfully completed, they were awarded certificates.“
Could the “Education to Employment“ training be a model for future with regard to solving a problem with employment of the vulnerable group of women who left the violence with the decision to start a new life?
“Education to Employment is so far the only project to suit the needs of a vulnerable groups such as women who are victims of domestic violence. The advantage is that efforts were concurrently made to strengthen their motivation to attend training and, with the employers, to better understand the needs of women who came out of the violence.“
It is believed in the Safety Oasis that, in future, a more significant role in supporting victims of violence to get employment should be played by the National Employment Service which should keep better register of jobless victims of violence, be more involved in providing them with the information about vacancies, retraining possibilities, etc. The problem is that, so far, all attempts to provide employment for victims of violence have been reduced to individual contacts between social institutions and employers.
Further, it should be borne in mind that the self-employment programme with grants meant for starting own business is not a good option for women who are victims of violence. Namely, they went through a hardship and now, after everything, they are not ready to assume the responsibility and obligation to run their own business.
“Work with vulnerable populations is specific and requires continuous psychological support which should subsist in the course of future programmes for promotion of their employment. These persons have been let down in their lives, they are victims of violence – it is therefore important to be sensitised to work with them. Our suggestion is that, in addition to the victims of violence, the work should in future focus on employers as well: they need to be informed about the social situation of the persons who experienced violence and disperse any stereotypes that exist about them“.
In the Safety Oasis they believe that the problem of employment of women victims of violence should be addressed in a systematic manner. A good example in Serbia is Vojvodina, It budgets the funds to encourage the employers to employ vulnerable populations.
Text and photo: Gordana Mirović / Editor: Sandra Vlatković
Kruševac: The focus of the activities implemented by Kruševac Youth Council within the ”Education to Employment” programme in the course of 2018 were on increasing the employability of young people in this town. Career guidance and counselling workshops were held; vulnerable youth populations, particularly wards of the Correctional Home, were addressed; on-the-job training was organised; cooperation with the City Administration, local institutions, and business sector was established. According to the information provided by this organisation, the activities concerning career guidance and counselling will be extended this year, on-the-job training will take place, and the Youth Council will continue to provide support to the wards of the Correctional Home.
We have become a recognisable organisation in Kruševac – one that provides career guidance and counselling services and thus assists young people to select their future career and to establish employment. The Youth Club, which we were allowed to use through the contribution made by the City of Kruševac to this project, was the milieu of 25 career guidance and counselling workshops for about 500 secondary school students. The number of info sessions held in secondary school was 21 and 489 students were present. Professional orientation test was underwent by 125 pupils of the final year of primary school. Interviews were conducted with 68 jobless young people who were helped with writing their CV, preparing for interviews with their employers, and they were referred to the employers with whom we had already established cooperation,” Marina Virijević, the president of Kruševac Youth Council, said when summing up the year 2018.
She noted that, in the period January – June last year, 4 on-the-job training programmes were organised in the duration of 2 – 6 months. Training for bookkeeper, garment producer, dental and rubber technicians, were undergone by 50 young people with less than 30 years of age. More than 60 percent of them established employment within the three months following the completion of training. Within this part of the project, a working group was set up for the vocational profile of dentist/dental technician which gathered together 15 representatives of dental offices with the aim to improve the existing formal and informal training programmes for this profile.
Moreover, in partnership with the Correctional Home, Kruševac Youth Council have implemented the “Safe choices“ project.
In the first part of the project whose duration was one year, 65 wards went through individual career profiling, and 50 wards took part in educational workshops which will help them find a job after they leave the Correctional Home. Visits to different companies in Ras County were organised with the aim to learn more about some specific jobs, the way the job is done, and to disperse employers’ prejudices about the persons who were pronounced a correctional measure. In cooperation with the JKP Kruševac, one-month paid on-the-job training was organised for the vocational profile of florist/gardener which was attended by 10 wards,” Virijević said.
She mentioned that efforts of this organisation to integrate and resocialise the wards of the Correctional Home was widely recognised. Consequently, the Youth Council participated at the Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh. Moreover, it joined the Skill Mill, a UK social enterprise network which is providing employment for ex-offenders. In the coming period it will work on establishing this social enterprise in Kruševac.
The City of Kruševac is the partner of Kruševac Youth Council in the implementation of the “Education to Employment” programme. As Virijević said, thanks to this fact excellent cooperation was established with local institutions and schools, and they all work together to improve the status of young people in Kruševac.
“We also had the opportunity to be visited by the Director of the Swiss Cooperation Agency, Ursula Läubli, who, when making official address within her visit, highlighted that Kruševac is one of the towns which in a special focus of the Swiss Cooperation Agency,” she noted.
In 2019 Kruševac will continue to implement these activities.
It is planned to, within career guidance and counselling, extend the services to include other municipalities in Ras County, introduce new activities for primary school pupils, as well as to ensure that the number of young people receiving career guidance and counselling services is double that of the previous year,” Virijević said.
Also, a call for on-the-job training was announced. The Youth Council expects that current year’s results will match those of the previous year, namely that they will train and assist a new group of young people to get employment.
“It is planned to develop new and to improve existing vocational training programmes, and the selection of companies and vocational profiles will depend on the interest expressed by the employers and their ability to take part in the programme,” she specified.
She also said that cooperation with the Correctional Home has been continued and that, in partnership with this institution, Kruševac Youth Council will in the current year implement a new project supported by the Eurpean Union and the Ministry of Finance (CFCU). This project will support the wards of the Correctional Home in their work integration and resocialisation by training, establishing connections with employers in Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Kruševac, and creating post-penal support in Serbia.
Text and photo: Jelena Božović / Editor: Sandra Vlatković
Kragujevac:In addition for young trainees, the training within the “Education to Employment“ programme is also meant for their mentors from companies. Before they start practical training, employees of different educational background attend trainin in which they learn how to best transfer their knowledge and make assessment of the progress made by young people. People gathered in the same classroom included highly proficient professionals: mechanical engineers, IT engineers, graphic engineers, bookkeepers, bakers, nursery teachers, etc. In Kragujevac, training was attended by 54 mentors from 11 companies in which 130 jobless young people underwent the first cycle of the “Education to Employment“ training. The training for mentors was conducted by Marija Stojadinović and Vladimir Dobi.
It is a task of the mentor to create a well-trained employee
“Within the “Education to Employment” programme, mentors are an essential part of training jobless young people on-the-job, in companies. Young people go through specific work situation and work assignments in companies. They acquire knowledge and skills they need to be able to competently and properly do a job for which they receive education. In this regard, crucial role in the companies is played by mentors-instructors who are assigned to the trainees, namely to young people undergoing the on-the-job training. They are transferring knowledge to them, teach them about specific work assignments, monitor them and make assessment of the progress they make,“ Marija Stojadinović, the representative of the Education to Employment programme in Kragujevac, said.
The mentors who transfer knowledge to trainees are delegated by the companies in which practical training takes place. These are the employees which are believed by the employers to have most knowledge and work experience. In their respective companies, they are in charge of training the newly-recruited staff. They are manifestly predisposed to transfer knowledge and that is why they are assigned a young member of staff whom they will help to acquire the skills and knowledge needed for effective completion of the job.
Instructure is a key figure in on-the-job training and it is therefore essential that he himself acquired the skills and knowledge about how to best transfer his knowledge to young people.
From ‘reservations’ to satisfaction
Companies have very well accepted the participation in the three-day training for mentors, but the candidates for instructors were distrustful and reserved in the beginning.
“On one hand, companies were quite willing to send mentors to the training and understood that it is necessary that they have their own people who will work with future newly-recruited. They also understood that the transfer of knowledge should be standardised. On the other hand, considering that they have extensive work experience, mentors believed that they already possess such competence since, through many years of practice and achieving results in training the beginners, they have proven that some of their methods are effective,“ Vladimir Dobi, trainer of mentors, said.
He also said that, during the training, future instructors for the trainees came to understand all benefits of this training in which they have learnt how to transfer their knowledge to adults.
Discussion at trainings were always very lively and the participants, although coming from different vocational backgrounds, were motivated to share their experience and adopt new knowledge about how to transfer their knowledge to the young members of staff.
What do you learn at training for mentors
The trainer’s message for mentors was that, for all they say to the trainees, they have to be the first who will demonstrate it to the trainees.
“The next step is to let the train do it himself, with the support and assistance of the mentor, after which the two are to discuss the task performed by the trainee. Through this dialogue, the trainee gets opportunity to confirm and consolidate his knowledge. It’s a process, a learning cycle which we underwent together with the mentors in this training while we were preparing them to work with the trainees,“ Marija said.
She underlined that it is really important to ‘practice’ communicating with the trainees.
“It was really useful when we worked with mentors on the elements important for communication and specifically mentioned two types of conversation we often have with the trainees. One is criticism, and the other is evaluation. Then, mentors were divided in pairs and tested how to properly conduct these types of conversation so as to produce best impact on trainees,“ Marija Stojadinović said.
Through this type of education, instructors received the tools which will facilitate their work with the trainees – participants of on-the-job training. These are concrete tools regarding how to plan the training how to monitor the trainees’ progress and current status. Mentors also learnt how to evaluate the trainees against a model developed exclusively to suit the requirements of the “Education to Employment” programme.
Companies need a standardised transfer of knowledge
All companies participating in the “Education to Employment“ programme, generally speaking, address the training of their young staff. However, with the exception of largest companies, they do not have standardised programmes for the transfer of skills and knowledge.
“They are intuitively doing all this in their respective companies, working with the interns who are regular visitors to their companies. However, this training was important because we have identified and set standards for the implementation of the on-the-job training and for what they, being mentors in this context, are supposed to do and how,“ Marija said.
According to her, trained mentors become companies’ assets.
“Independently from the Education to Employment programme, companies have regular internal training process for the new candidates and they introduce new employees to the job. Therefore, this kind of training, namely the trained mentors, are a plus and further assets to companies enabling them to, in a standardised manner, improve the process of selecting their new employees,“ Marija said.
Vladimir said that training was beneficial also for the mentors who already have the experience of working with secondary school students within the dual education programme.
“For them, working with adults was something new. That is why the focus of the training was on how different it is to train secondary school students and adults,“ Vladimir said.
Mentors saw themselves in their trainees
Within the training, mentors acquired knowledge and documents which they can use in their future work with young members of staff. It is not solely the footprint of practical training that took place, but also the argument they can use to show to their management why a specific trainee deserve, or does not deserve, to be recommended for a job. This means that their opinion about the progress of a trainee is not only their personal impression, but an opinion based on documented assessments.
On the other hand, mentors were able to see whether they did well in the evaluations the trainees made in the end of the training. The trainees gave good marks to the instructors and highlighted how willing they were to train them for specific jobs and how open everybody else in the work environment in companies were to sharing their knowledge and skills
Positive experience from the first training for mentors under the Education to Employment programme will be incorporated in the second cycle of training. Already there are no doubts that the number of mentors will be higher than in the first cycle.
“The lesson we learnt – a larger number of mentors is needed for on-the-job training. It was defined for the second cycle of training that it is required to have one mentor for every three trainees because like that the instructor’s attention will be more focused. The assessment and evaluation will be simpler, too. Namely, the number of forms which mentors fill out about the trainee’s progress will be smaller,“ Vladimir Dobi said.
Text and photo: Gordana Mirović / Editor: Sandra Vlatković
Novi Pazar:Youth Office in Novi Pazar started to, within the “Education to Employment” programme, implement the workshop: “My plans for future: chances and possibilities”, intended for the students of the school for catering and tourism.
In their talks with the E2E, participants of the workshops said that it was for the first time in their educational process thus far that they encounter such activities and that finally they have a way and a person to share their ideas with and get advice from.
“Young people only rarely have the opportunity to openly talk about their plans for further education and their future. Workshops like these are something new for us; they are valuable because we have learnt many essential things. I can say without hesitation that we did not know the first thing about the labour market – that’s how uninformed we were,” Amina, who will finish her secondary school this year, said.
Rejhan shares her opinion. He believes that the information about the vocational profiles that are scarce on labour market and the situation on labour market were critical.
“The existence of the Career Centre provides an excellent opportunity to learn which jobs are in demand. Based on that information we can decide how to proceed, what to do after we finish secondary school. We also learnt something about dual education. I find that concept to be interesting and I hope future generations will be educated based on that model. I believe that, in this way, they can learn more than we did, and that they will gain practical skills in particular,” this young man added.
Aleksandra Majstorović, a representative of the Youth Office and the mentor of these secondary school students, said that the workshop “My plans for future: chances and possibilities” covered all 3rd and 4th grade students of the school for catering and tourism.
“At the workshops we try to hear what are their wishes and plans for future, but we also try to talk openly about whether a specific university or secondary school would provide for a fast employment. We informed them about current situation on labour market, the conditions and the demand, about scarce vocational profiles, the skills and knowledge which are required and demanded and which would provide for a faster employment,” Majstorović said.
She once again announced the pending six-month training for young people in Novi Pazar who would like to become tourist guides – a scarce profile in a town which has a large number of cultural and historical monuments, an increasingly finer tourist offer, and more and more visits both by local and foreign visitors.
A huge interest in this training is shown by current and future students of the school for catering and tourism.
Text and photo: Nikola Kočović / Editor: Sandra Vlatković