This is a reference for Fabio Meazza

Soft Skills for Hard Youth Workers

The training activity took place
in Alicante, Spain
organised by Associació Cultura Creativa
02/12/2019 - 08/12/2019
Reference person

Svetlana Valcheva

(Trainer, Project Manager)
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Aims & objectives

The training course “Soft Skills for Hard Youth Workers” was created with the intention of drawing the attention of youth workers to the importance of soft skills and offering them the opportunity to explore and experiment with new methods and tools that aim to promote those skills. With the realization of the project, we offered participants the necessary knowledge and the most innovative tools for developing soft skills useful in their daily work with the youth of their local communities.

Youth workers also had the opportunity to design and test new methods that aim to foster various skills and abilities such as teamwork, empathy, active communication, leadership, creativity, initiative, etc. At the end of the project, participants compiled a document with the activities they have created and this document serves as a guide for the rest of the youth workers who are interested in the topic of soft skills and their development.

Taking into account the phenomenon of youth unemployment, we also paid special attention to the importance of soft skills for successful insertion in the labour market. To be more competitive and compensate for the lack of work experience, young people have to bet on the development of their soft skills. For this reason, during the days of the program, the youth workers took part in activities that taught them how to help young people in the job search process and to promote the skills most in demand by the labour market.

Furthermore, based not only on studies but also on our own experience, we believe that soft skills are a must for those of us involved in youth work. These skills help us to get closer to young people, to empathize with them, to better express our ideas, to work as a team, to communicate with people from different cultural and social backgrounds and, consequently, to develop high-quality activities and quality projects.

In summary, the objectives of “Soft Skills for Hard Youth Workers” have been:
- To improve the knowledge of the youth workers on the topic of soft skills and their importance.
- To develop and enhance the soft skills of the participants which they need in their everyday job and personal life.
- To offer the opportunity to explore, design and experience new methods and tools aimed at fostering soft skills.
- To promote the role of youth workers in the process of training young people and helping along with their access to the labor market.
- To facilitate the exchange of experiences and good practices and create a favourable environment for the establishment of new partnerships and initiatives.
- To promote the activities within the Erasmus + program and the opportunities for youth mobility as opportunities to develop soft skills.
- To create a document with innovative tools and methods dedicated to the development of the "soft skills" that will be used as a guide by the rest of the youth workers.

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

The group was composed of 22 youth workers from 9 different countries: Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and The Republic of North Macedonia.

Profile of the Participants we looked for:
- older than 18 years of age.
- with a communicative level of English.
- motivated to develop and improve their own soft skills.
- interested to learn new tools and techniques to stimulate the development of soft skills among youth.
- there was no requirement for experience: beginners in the youth work as well professionals with years of experience.

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 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:

Training methods used & main activities

All the project activities were based on the use of non-formal methodologies that allowed the participants to acquire knowledge in a friendly and effective way. Participants took part in workshops, simulations, role-playing games, outdoor activities and other group activities such as discussions, problem-solving and brainstorming sessions. They also had the opportunity and space to develop their own ideas, coached by the trainers, in order to create and run their own workshops that then have been included in the guide.

During the training course, there have been moments of personal reflection, work in small groups and sharing in plenary. 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

During the experience, the participants had the opportunity to:
- get to know, develop and improve their soft skills.
- be more aware of the importance of soft skills in youth work and at the same time how they could improve the employability of young people.
- enhance their own employability and have a more successful approach to the labour market.
- have more knowledge about the design thinking process.
- foster the European values and improve knowledge about the Erasmus+ program and its opportunities.

The program has been successful and Associació Cultura Creativa managed to create a guide containing all the workshops that participants created during the dedicated sessions. The booklet has been shared with all the partner organisations involved in the project, with the possibility of sharing with other youth workers interested in the results of the project.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I have been a full-time trainer in the team composed of 3 total people, delivering sessions about topics such as design thinking process, media literacy, problem-solving, communication and other relevant soft skills. I have been also facilitating reflection sessions.

I worked on this training for 6 days as a full time trainer.

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