This is a reference for Fabio Meazza


The training activity took place
in Góra Kalwaria, Poland
organised by YoWo Poland
23/01/2022 - 29/01/2022
Reference person

Urszula Leszczyńska

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Aims & objectives

The project ”Employ-Abilities" was born from the need of partner organisations to provide their youth workers with some useful and necessary soft skills, as well as tools to be able to transfer them to young people they are directly working with. The idea was born from the discussions of representatives of YoWo Poland and L’Ayalguina, who found themselves noticing that youth workers lack developed soft skills or they do not know how to develop and practice them and, in consequence, are not able to provide their youth target groups with methods, tools and safe space to develop soft skills as well. We noticed a common lack (youth workers and youth) of transversal and personal skills valued in professional and personal life such as teamwork, interpersonal communication, organization, adaptability, flexibility, creativity, etc.

We decided to work together on the topic and to include other organisations that we know that work on developing youth workers competences and, thus, improving the quality of youth work in their local communities. Sharing of all partners’ needs led us to joint research and the identification of a heterogeneous series of soft skills, essential in youth work, that the project aims to develop, in order to increase the quality work and initiatives done by participating youth workers and to boost the awareness of their own competences and to encourage them to develop themselves. In this way, we wanted to reach, indirectly, the youth they work with on a daily basis and support them in NFE opportunities to develop soft skills of theirs. This is connected to objectives 4 (Quality education) and 8 (Decent work and economic growth) of the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations targets to significantly increase by 2030 the number of young people and adults with specific skills for employment and substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.

Within the aim of the project – to increase the quality of activities done by youth workers and to develop their soft skills fundamental for working with young people – the project had set as objectives:

- To develop youth workers’ knowledge about soft skills;
- To create a safe space for youth workers to practice and develop their soft skills and boost their self-confidence;
- To develop tools needed to boost young people's soft skills;
- To raise awareness of the usefulness of soft skills in personal and professional life;
- To promote personal and group reflection as an important tool for increasing awareness about oneself and one's own abilities.

This project aimed to contribute also to the achievement of the general objective of the Erasmus+ program, in particular to the achievement of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy and the objectives of the strategic framework for European cooperation in the field of education and training.

The objectives of the project are also in line with the following objectives of Key Action 1:
- to improve the level of key competences and skills, with particular regard to their relevance for the labour market and their contribution to a cohesive society, in particular through increased opportunities for learning mobility and through strengthened cooperation between the world of education and training and the world of work;
- to foster quality improvements in youth work, in particular through enhanced cooperation between organisations in the youth field and/or other stakeholders;
- to improve the level of key competences and skills of youth workers, including those with fewer opportunities; to enhance the international dimension of youth activities and enhance the capacity of youth workers and organisations in their support for young people in complementarity with the European Union's external action, in particular through the promotion of mobility and cooperation between stakeholders.

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

The group was composed of 23 youth workers from 8 different countries: Poland, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Malta, Croatia and Czechia.

Profile of the Participants we looked for:
- at least 18 years old;
- with at least an intermediate level of English;
- being an active youth worker / trainer / NGO worker / teacher or looking to work with youth in the future;
- interested in the topic of soft skills and developing their own soft skills;
- motivated and excited to learn;
- being present during all the parts of the project (preparation, activity, dissemination);
- ready to use the acquired competences after the activity in dissemination and follow-up activities.

In accordance with the objective of the Erasmus + program to increase the presence of youth with fewer opportunities in international mobility programs, we encouraged the selection of participants who comes from the disadvantaged social, economic, educational, cultural or geographic environment, including immigrants and refugees.

Selection procedure:
Candidates completed an application form to demonstrate both the skills they already have and their interest in participating in this course as part of their professional development process. In some cases, candidates have been contacted for an interview.

Partner organisations:
- POLAND, YoWo Poland
- SPAIN, Asociación Cultural L'Ayalguina
- CZECHIA, CEFIG International
- FRANCE, Association Hors Pistes
- ITALY, Beyond Borders

Training methods used & main activities

The activity aimed to give youth workers useful tools and ideas on what soft skills are and how they can be used and trained for better personal and professional life, as well as how they can be transferred to youth that participants’ work with on daily basis; for doing this we designed a program that led participants to develop - through experimentation, reflection and exploration of new opportunities - soft skills for then working together on developing tools on how to transfer them to young people. Day by day, the path set as objectives the learning and growth of specific soft skills, always looking attentively at stimulating other abilities that can be considered transversal to the activities as in an employment situation, such as time management, teamwork, activeness, proactiveness, responsibility, etc.

As for methodology, we focused mostly on non-formal education. We included learning games, role plays, sketches, debates, group works, drawing etc. During the project, we combined different approaches in order to keep the audience engaged: we worked in big groups, small groups, in pairs, individually, giving participants space to speak and discuss, share their knowledge and experience; we also encouraged them to speak publicly and, most importantly, get out of their comfort zones. Because that is when you get to the learning zone – where getting experience and knowledge, skills and competences happen.

Participants also had the opportunity and space to develop their own ideas, coached by the trainers, in order to create and run their own workshops.

The flow of everyday reflections, scheduled every day in the evening through NFE methods, encouraged participants to share feelings of each day and to give feedback to organisers and trainers. Safe spaces have been created so that participants could share and exchange experiences and good practices that enhanced their more active participation in the course. Through the different activities, they have been involved for feeling protagonists and willing to participate actively in the activities, encouraging learning through experience, dialogue and exchange. The aim was to build knowledge among all the people and the generated group dynamics.

Outcomes of the activity

Through the preparation process, participating in the main activity (the training course), and implementing dissemination activities, participants achieved the following learning outcomes. They:

- gained knowledge about soft skills and about various uses of soft skills in their daily life (personal and professional);
- gained knowledge about the labour market situation (e.g. skills valued by employers, employability opportunities, unemployment among youth) in all partner countries;
- learned about intercultural dialogue;
- learned information and perspectives about all partner countries;
- learned personal information about other participants, i.e. their hobbies, the music they listen to, etc.;
- got to know the location of the training course and its surroundings (Poland);
- practised and develop soft skills, e.g. communication and active listening, organisation skills, self-confidence and self-esteem, empathy, creativity and design thinking, problem-solving, and others that they will propose to practice and develop during the project;
- gained methods and tools to practice and develop soft skills;
- developed team working skills, especially in an intercultural environment;
- gained expertise in creating activities, workshops and projects in the topic of soft skills, that they will be able to use while developing activities on other topics;
- gained facilitation skills while conducting workshops;
- applied the developed soft skills in job interview simulations;
- developed the sense of initiative and creativity when preparing the intercultural night and the workshops, applying it when presenting or facilitating;
- performed intercultural dialogue by exchanging with other participants;
- developed skills for self-reflection on the topic of soft skills and monitoring their own learning process;
- developed their communication skills, both in their mother tongue and in foreign languages, especially in English (the language of the project);
- increased their awareness of the importance of soft skills in their personal and professional life;
- boosted their self-confidence in personal and professional life;
- increased their trust in non-formal education by experiencing its methods and tools;
- became more aware of similarities and differences between various cultures;
- became more tolerant towards various cultures, points of view, attitudes, etc.;
- became more aware of their learning style, learning process;
- increased their willingness to develop themselves and learn through non-formal education methods;
- became more self-confident in personal and professional life;
- became more aware of their skills and willing to develop them;
- became aware of the importance of developing their foreign language skills.

By this project, we also wanted to address desired outcomes of KA1 projects as regards staff, youth workers and professionals involved in education, training and youth:
- to improve competences, linked to their professional profiles (teaching, training, youth work, etc.);
- to increase capacity to trigger changes in terms of modernisation and international opening within their educational organisations; greater understanding of interconnections between formal and non-formal education, vocational training and the labour market respectively;
- to ensure a better quality of their work and activities in favour of students, trainees, apprentices, pupils, adult learners, young people and volunteers;
- to increase support for and promotion of mobility activities for learners; increased opportunities for professional and career development;
- to improve foreign language competences; and, finally, to increase motivation and satisfaction in their daily work thanks to soft skills development, which we consider crucial for achieving the last outcome.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I have been a full-time trainer in a team composed of 4 total people (2 trainers and 2 logistic people/facilitators), delivering sessions about topics such as design thinking process, creativity, conflict management, communication, active listening, empathy and other relevant themes. I have been responsible for designing the sessions together with the other co-trainer.

I worked on this training for 7 days as a full time trainer.

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