More than 50.000 people are employed as instructors, trainers and social workers in Social Integration Enterprises across Europe, helping over a million persons to improve their professional life through work and training and supporting and advising them in their integration process. These trainers are responsible not only for the professional training of the transitory employees but also for documenting and developing their existing skills and competencies, helping them to reach their full potential. This enables Social Integration Enterprises to play an essential role across Europe in competency development particularly of low skilled and unqualified workers.
In April 2008 the EU agreed on a European Qualification Framework (EQF) introducing 8 levels of skills, knowledge and competency to improve transparency about workers skills and competencies and about qualification systems. The individual member states are now invited to create their own National Qualification Frameworks (NQF) which will mean not only deciding their national equivalent levels (which levels are relevant for their country) but also what and who will be accredited and by whom. With the frameworks the member states aim to increase upward mobility in learning, improve transparency within their own national systems for learners and for employers both nationally and across Europe as well as improve conditions for a better mobility of workers between member states. The aim of the project SYSCOM is to ensure that Social Integration Enterprises are included in this debate and that their transitory workers are not mistakenly left behind by the decision makers.
Both new Frameworks will require Social Integration Enterprises not only to work more than ever with competency orientated systems but to improve the documentation systems for these. In this project the professional associations at a Regional, National and European level have come together to ensure that the Social Integration Enterprises are getting this message and the information they need to achieve this. This will culminate in an information and training push starting autumn 2010 which will include workshops and materials for the professional staff about already existing competency tools which comply to the requirements of NQF Systems as well as bringing them up to date on EQF and getting them involved in the NQF debate and surrounding issues.
However, before we can start this we will need to do some status-quo analyses abou:
- the types of professional training systems used in Social Integration Enterprises, which will give us answers about which certification systems are in place and what are they oriented on and if companies are delivering an individual approach how this is being done;
- competency documentation tools already available, taking into consideration: what relevance they have to the trainers, to the unemployment office and to the individual, if they are linked to certification systems and just how sensitive are they to intercultural and diversity issues and
- how much knowledge and awareness there is about EQF and NQF. Using our results we want to investigate how the skills and competencies gained and learnt during the time each person spent in a Social Integration Enterprise can be transferred into a NQF level and support further competency tool development.
To round off the projects, activities guidelines will be created for Social Integration Enterprises at a European level with the aim of supporting them to: a) develop new instruments to optimise transparency and mobility in training and employment processes and b) to increase the awareness of Social Integration Enterprises at a regional level to European mobility. All the results will be drawn together in a final report which will be illustrated with best practice examples taking into account the European overlap in approach and processes, which will be available in December 2010. SYSCOM is a joint cooperation between Austria, Belgium, Germany and Poland and is funded with support from the European Commission in the Life Long Learning Programme.