Monthly Archives: February 2016

Learning in EVS

ovpeloblogDuring many years of our life, we learn within the world of formal education: in primary school, high school or university. The education system decides what you have to learn, how you have to learn it, and evaluates whether you have learned it or not. In the end, you receive a certificate that validates your learning. Within the EVS experience, the volunteer will go through a non-formal learning process. There won’ t be any teacher, just some accompanying person or a person that will give him support during the process. The learning adapts to his own interests, since he will participate in the planning, organisation and evaluation of the process. As through our entire life, informal learning is also present during the EVS experience. This learning is not structured or planned, it takes place unintentionally within his environment and while relating with other persons: during a conversation, while having a cup of coffee, while doing your grocery in the supermarket, or just walking through the streets of a different country, while watching a movie, through media…..

During his EVS, he has the control over how he live this experience; it’s not about things “happening”, it is about things “that you make happen”… The same applies for the learning outcomes within your EVS: a step further that you can take if you feel like doing it. It consists in learning to analyse and to set his own learning goals, reflecting over his learning process and evaluate if he are meeting your goals and to which extent.

He may learn from the activities that he carry out within the organisation but also during his free time… During his EVS, he is the one to look for your own learning opportunities! However, he dosen’ t have to do it on his own, he can count on the support of other colleagues, his mentor or other persons from his organisation… but remember, the most important thing is his personal interest and his own motivation.

What the volunteer in the end should learn and develop, are summary in the famous 8 key competences:

  • communication in the mother tongue, which is the ability to express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in both oral and written form (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and to interact linguistically in an appropriate and creative way in a full range of societal and cultural contexts;
  • communication in foreign languages, which involves, in addition to the main skill dimensions of communication in the mother tongue, mediation and intercultural understanding. The level of proficiency depends on several factors and the capacity for listening, speaking, reading and writing;
  • mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology. Mathematical competence is the ability to develop and apply mathematical thinking in order to solve a range of problems in everyday situations, with the emphasis being placed on process, activity and knowledge. Basic competences in science and technology refer to the mastery, use and application of knowledge and methodologies that explain the natural world. These involve an understanding of the changes caused by human activity and the responsibility of each individual as a citizen;
  • digital competenceinvolves the confident and critical use of information society technology (IST) and thus basic skills in information and communication technology (ICT);
  • learning to learnis related to learning, the ability to pursue and organise one’s own learning, either individually or in groups, in accordance with one’s own needs, and awareness of methods and opportunities;
  • social and civic competences. Social competence refers to personal, interpersonal and intercultural competence and all forms of behaviour that equip individuals to participate in an effective and constructive way in social and working life. It is linked to personal and social well-being. An understanding of codes of conduct and customs in the different environments in which individuals operate is essential. Civic competence, and particularly knowledge of social and political concepts and structures (democracy, justice, equality, citizenship and civil rights), equips individuals to engage in active and democratic participation;
  • sense of initiative and entrepreneurshipis the ability to turn ideas into action. It involves creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. The individual is aware of the context of his/her work and is able to seize opportunities that arise. It is the foundation for acquiring more specific skills and knowledge needed by those establishing or contributing to social or commercial activity. This should include awareness of ethical values and promote good governance;
  • cultural awareness and expression, which involves appreciation of the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media (music, performing arts, literature and the visual arts).

These key competences are all interdependent, and the emphasis in each case is on critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem solving, risk assessment, decision taking and constructive management of feelings.

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What is employability?

20downloadThinking about the employability I think always about my profession – youth worker. The term is being present almost everyday in my professional life – I open my mailbox and there is a new training offer on employability, I looks for youth exchanges for my young people – most of the topics employability, we write projects and what topic we can choose… EMPLOYABILITY!

To write this article I did same small investigation about the presence of the word employability in the ERASMUS+ programme guide, and yes it popped up a lot, especially in relation to the youth field. What catched my attention is how some of the objectives and priorities has been formulated. Here are some examples what you can find in that document:

  • The mobility activities supported under Key Action 1 are meant to produce the following outcomes: enhanced employability and improved career prospects;
  • AIMS OF THE MOBILITY PROJECT ARE: support learners in the acquisition of learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and competences) with a view to improving their personal development, their involvement as considerate and active citizens in society and their employability in the European labour market and beyond;
  • KA2 should have a positive impact on the persons directly or indirectly involved in the activities, such as: improved levels of skills for employability and new business creation (including social entrepreneurship);
  • HORIZONTAL PRIORITY of KA2: Transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications to facilitate learning, employability and labour mobility.
  • FIELD SPECIFIC PRIORITY Youth (KA2) Promoting high-quality youth work. Priority will be placed on projects that: foster the inclusion and employability of young people with fewer opportunities (including NEETs);
  • As well employability is stressed out in the Knowledge Alliance and Jean Monnet

So as we can see there is a lot going on in the field of youth on the topic of employability, but how well we actually understand this concept? For my for a very long time I was thinking that employability is the ability to get a job, and while working with young people we need to focus mainly on the application process and the things that young people can put into their CVs. While I started working with the topic of employability I have discovered that it is much more.

If someone would ask me right now what the employability is, I would state that it is the ability to get a job, do the job, keep a job, develop within the job and move on to the next job. Taking this approach while working with young people we need to focus on preparing them for being employed, for example how to be efficient, how to find the balance between personal and professional life, how to be responsible and how to take care about the personal development and life long learning.

Therefore whenever we are talking about the employability competences we are talking about something transversal, skills that everyone need to some extend and they are not really connected with the application process, rather with the soft skills. Within one of the projects that we have implemented within the KA2 – Strategic Partnership in the field of youth that is called OVPELO we have identified based on research the set of 9 main employability competences that are:

  • Learning to Learn
  • Taking the initiative
  • Social competence
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Organizational competences
  • Problem Solving
  • Self-management

Since to some extend each young person poses those competences, developed at school, in the social life, doing volunteering etc., and on the other hand many young people are not really aware of this, we have created the new tool – portfolio of the employability competences, that aims to help young people to self-evaluate and realize where are they, on what they want to work and were to improve. The tool soon will we up, so stay tuned!