DARE project visit from the EEA and Norway Grants secretariat

Interview from FMO. Anna Dalosi and Nikolas Christofi. Credits: DARE


César Gimeno Rodríguez, Communication Trainee EEA and Norway Grants, FMO – Financial Mechanism Office


Anna Dalosi, President & Project Manager, SEAL CYPRUS
Nicolas Christofi, Communication Officer, SEAL CYPRUS

DARE has a focus on vulnerable groups and people who are hard to reach. How are you planning on outreach, as a way to secure participants to your project?

The partners will try to reach the beneficiaries in physical spaces where young people meet. Word of mouth is a key communication channel in all the countries of project implementation.

For the young people who have a more ‘temporary’ NEET  status, outreach activities will focus on ensuring a successful transition to their next job or education stage by providing advice, guidance and information. 

We will use the internet and social media, which such young people are likely to use when searching for information about their future options. These channels are effective in reaching young NEETs, who have IT and literacy skills and are motivated to search for such information on their own.

For the young people who have a more ‘long-term’ NEET  status, much more intense outreach activities will take place, including joint partner efforts to identify, locate and track such people, to understand the range of their often multiple support needs, to motivate them to re-engage with employment or education providing individualised guidance.

We are now talking with stakeholders who are working directly with the NEET population to understand their needs and explore appropriate channels to reach them. The public employment service has been very open in providing information about their work in the field, but data sharing and data protection issues prohibit them from providing access to people.

Hopefully, we will manage to identify practitioners such as private careers advisers who have obtained permission by their beneficiaries to contact them. One idea is to follow up with young people who have reached for advice at some point in the past and inform them about our project- if they are still NEET.

Key partners in outreach activities are local municipalities and regional authorities, and we are planning to implement Job Labs and Entrepreneurship Labs in urban and rural areas too.

Similarly, how will you reach the employers and other stakeholders you plan to work with?

We have been in contact with stakeholders from the beginning. During the launch conference in Cyprus on June 2019, representatives of the following stakeholders have addressed the audience:

  • The Commissioner for Volunteerism and Non-Governmental Organizations Mr Yannis Giannakis.
  • The National Focal Point for the Financial Mechanism of the EEA & Norway Grants in Cyprus.
  • The Youth Board of Cyprus.
  • The Department of Labor of the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance.

It has been our plan from the beginning to involve during the outreach and the implementation phases a range of relevant government and non-government stakeholders, such as employment services, education providers, social services, NGOs and local authorities. For the success of our project, we are counting on the strength of the networks of stakeholders that each partner has ready and open access to.

With DARE project, we will try to influence employers to endorse the Open Badges as a system for validation of learning of the young people in NEET situation. We will reach employers not only through their associations and other bodies such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry but also by direct contact.

How will you work on motivation and life skills development of the project participants?

With the operation of Job Labs and Entrepreneurship Labs, we will increase the motivation and skills development of the project participants. Given that young people in NEET situation might be seriously discouraged, we will support the participants to build confidence by acknowledging their “hidden talents” as they have been expressed and developed throughout their life. 

We believe that receiving validation for non-formal learning will also matter a great deal to the beneficiaries. Validation with Open Badges is expected to strengthen the self-esteem of young people who are NEET and, in return, to provide the boost they need to show courage and become more motivated to plan and pursue their career pathway. 

The partners from Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Cyprus will implement the Labs with the use of know-how and good practices from the partners from Lithuania, Poland & Austria. Some examples:

The Youth Career and Advising Center from Lithuania will provide know-how on “Mind Development of Critical Thinking for a Successful Future Career” while the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lodz from Poland will provide know-how on the development of soft skills, time-management and more. IFTE from Austria will provide mindfulness exercises and a challenge-based learning methodology with a series of Entrepreneurial Challenges

How will you overcome language and cultural barriers between the project partners and the participants?

The partners in the four countries of implementation- Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Portugal- will adapt the good practices to their cultural frameworks. The reason five partners from the above four countries came together to build the project was in the first place, the fact that they share cultural and socio-economic characteristics. English is the working language of the project partners. The Job Labs and the Entrepreneurship Labs will be implemented in the language of the participants. All the material to be handed- out to the participants will be in their language.

Could you tell me about the current project status and what the next steps are?

The project started four months ago, in April 2019. The Lead Partner, SEAL CYPRUS, has had an initial meeting with the partners who will transfer know-how in Vienna. All the partners have been invited in the Launch Conference which took place in Nicosia on the 24th of June. The event was a big success in terms of visibility and engagement of the stakeholders. Right now, the partners are working on the needs analysis and state-of-the-art in regards to the situation of the young people with NEET status in the four countries of implementation.

What motivated you to apply for funding from the EEA and Norway Grants? Has our funding enabled you to do something differently than if you had received funding from EU programmes, like Erasmus+?

The EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment is providing the partners with the means to promote sustainable and quality youth employment. Combatting youth unemployment and addressing the needs of NEETs is one of the top priorities of all the project partners. 

The partners have experience in projects funded by EU Programmes such as Erasmus+. For example, the lead partner, SEAL CYPRUS, is experienced in organising transnational educational mobility projects; mainly for youth professionals. Competence development and entrepreneurship education have both been at the core of our work. Moreover, with the support of the Erasmus+ Programme, we have coordinated three long-term Strategic Partnerships where we have developed educational curricula and non-formal tools for youth work to promote competence development of vulnerable youth. Our project CURSOR (http://cursorcareer.eu/) is developing tools for youth professionals who wish to support the youth in Career Planning. 

This current project, DARE, is complementing the transnational activities implemented by the project partners in the context of EU Programmes such as those funded by the European Social Fund or Erasmus+. DARE is an effort to strengthen cooperation with our partners in other European countries to address European challenges in the area of youth employment.

The Fund allowed us to implement direct interventions in benefit of the young people who are currently not in education, employment, or training. Our interventions towards the youth are on a personal level and include Job Labs dedicated to Career Planning with non-formal education methods and Entrepreneurship Labs. Moreover, we will work on a systemic level with the Validation and Certification of Learning with an innovative Open Badges System.

What kind of results do you foresee from the entrepreneurship training? Which sectors, or services or products, do you think the participants will aim for?

The main result we foresee from the Entrepreneurship Labs is to increase the participants’ desire and ability to be engaged in entrepreneurial activities. We aim to use entrepreneurship education as a way to create a sustainable culture of entrepreneurship. Through the Challenges system that we are going to adapt from Austria, we expect to increase the participants’ sense of initiative and a pro-active, creative thinking and risk-taking attitude that will allow them to be more active and responsible citizens while developing their full potential. Challenge-based learning is a practically oriented approach to entrepreneurship education and is based on the learning cycle “challenge – feedback – reflection”. Each challenge is a demanding and complex task that is tailored to the target group and reflects their daily reality. Learners are challenged to develop and implement ideas (often in collaboration with others) for the specific situation in question.

How will you support the participants to ensure that their entrepreneurships are sustainable after the project ends?

During the Entrepreneurship Labs, the participants will have the opportunity to test the feasibility of their ideas with the help of trainers and peers. After the end of each Lab, the participants will receive more individualised mentoring.

Do you have experience with employers accepting validation of former learning? How will you overcome the barriers many employers have towards uncertified competence and skills?

The lead partner, SEAL CYPRUS, has worked with employers to promote the visibility of the Youthpass, the certificate that validates non-formal learning obtained through mobility activities in the youth field. All the partners will need to intensify their efforts in reaching the employers and convincing them to endorse the Open Badges to be created by the project DARE.

How will you make sure that women with care responsibilities (for their own children or their family members) can stay in the project? Will you provide any services for them, like childcare?

The partners might provide childcare during the implementation of the Job Labs and the Entrepreneurship Labs.


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