(BEING CONTINUED FROM 17/08/15)
• Yves Sibilaud, Mode83, director.
. Mode83 is a non‐profit organisation resource centre dedicated to local development through ICT. Mode 83 runs a range of initiatives for different kind of public, such as elderly, handicapped or unemployed, from access, to basic IT literacy, to advanced multimedia and IT skills. This case focuses on the “job insertion” initiatives, which trains unemployed in IT in order to re‐include them on the labour market. The initiative locates the training in a simulated enterprise environment where unemployed people learn to build and then create audiovisual products, which is agreed with local organisations. For example, last year they created a documentary on water cycles, requested by the local authorities. The training includes state‐of‐ the‐art technologies for audiovisual production. In this way, they re‐gain confidence and become ready for the labour market.
IMPLEMENTATION AND SELF‐REPORTED RESULTS
The project involves 8 unemployed people along 10 months full time training. It provides practical training on state of the art audiovisual software and tools (image‐audio‐video processing). It is a very demanding initiative for trainees, including class work in presence and field work (interviews and filming). Rather than a simple training, it is a production project, which ends with a fully‐fledged audiovisual product. It is a highly creative activity, especially if compared to typical job insertion activities such as grass‐cutting, and particularly important as it gives self‐confidence to unemployed people, as well as highly spendable skills on the labour market. Particular care is taken of the quality of training. Participants are interviewed and briefed on the heavy engagement required by the project, and only most motivated participants are selected. Teachers and tools are high quality, and the skills provided are in line with the needs of the labour market. The project demonstrated high success: absence rates are almost zero, while they are normally quite high in other work integration projects, and around half of the trained people find a job after the training.
Funding is covered at 75% by public money, mostly from local government, although getting it is becoming more and more difficult, as described in the “barriers” section below. Funding comes from job insertion programmes, rather than from IT programmes.
The key factor is the valorisation of the individual that comes from direct and personal engagement. A close relation with the trainer is necessary, nearly a one‐to‐one relation, so that the trainees feel they are part of a project, rather than the recipients of a service. This is the very reason why technology‐only initiatives such as computers available in the Job Centre to upload CVs are not working. Compared to more traditional work integration measures such as cleaning woods, this multimedia initiatives provide better valorisation of the individual, because of the possibility to use state‐of‐the‐art tools; the inherent creativity of the work; the visibility of the results; and the high level of skills achieved. The creative dimension of the job is also very important in ensuring self‐confidence and valorisation: this is the very reason why success rate is so high. It is therefore very important that e‐Inclusion initiatives have access to state‐of‐the‐art hardware and software, which are in line with the required skills in the labour market. Using second‐hand hardware and open source software only is not a viable option. Moreover, multimedia and IT allow for creative and visible results to be achieved in quite a short time by the trainees, working collaboratively.
Funding is getting more and more difficult to get, because of two reasons. Firstly, e‐inclusion is still little understood at the policy level and in the funding mechanisms. It is not a commonly accepted theme in the context of work insertion programmes. For this reasons, the project needs specific skills for fund‐raising, across different ministries and institutional levels. For example, “I cannot ask the mayor funding for handicapped people, but rather for all citizens”. It is difficult to define best practice in terms of funding mechanisms, but the worse is certainly European funding (e.g. Equal programme). It is very difficult to manage, with too much uncertainty about the rules and different interpretations given by different parts involved. And the delays are a big problem for such a small organisation: one needs liquidity of three years in advance to participate in EU programmes. Secondly, the costs are high as both software and hardware need to be continuously updated, in order for the training to be useful and valuable in the labour market. In addition to this, it is costly in terms of human resources as personal and close contact with trainees is needed, and management requires experience in fundraising for sustainability.
It would be useful to develop a low cost software license for e‐Inclusion initiatives, using a similar model to the education license but at even lower cost.
There is a need for a closer relation with the IT industry in order to promote the work integration of trainees. Strategic reflection on e‐Inclusion and exchange of good practices needs to be enhanced. Raising awareness at policy level about the importance of integrating IT into existing social inclusion activities.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Annalisa De Luca