On September 13th, the Net-Works project partners met online for the second peer-to-peer session on “The perks of adhering to a network”. During the project, five peer-to-peer sessions are foreseen. Their aim is to build up and capacitate new local/regional networks of work-based education providers. The sessions are focused on network building with various topics such as networking principles, lobbying, adaptation processes…. This session focused on the analysis of what the in depth motivation of organisations is to adhere to a network; it was divided into three parts, each one addressing one question.
The first question addressed was “Why would you adhere to a network and what does that bring to you?” The partners answered to this question during a group session. One of the main reasons was having a collective voice that reinforces the power of negotiation, which allows them to be able to change the law. Other reasons to join a network are: making projects together, exchanging good practices and sharing experiences, gaining more knowledge, developing mutual support, getting fresh ideas. On a more practical aspect, being part of a network is also an opportunity to group purchasing of services and have discount on trainings or products.
The second question was “Who should a network serve and with what services?” The conclusions were that as this question concerns work-based education providers’ networks in particular, the people that should be served by a network are three kinds. First, the organisation itself: board members and staff members. Second the beneficiaries of the organisation: workers with support needs and all the workers in work-based education providers’ organisations. Third, the whole ecosystem: the government, other organisations from the same sector, stakeholders, etc.
Finally, a third series of questions put a light on how a network functions, its goal and what it could bring to its members. This part was interesting because some concrete ideas were drafted. The first step was to identify what precisely a network can do: sharing methods to get access to funding; organising different trainings on social media management, soft skills and digital skills; working on empowering its members, coordination meetings, organising study visits and mentoring sessions to transfer knowledge. The second step was to identify the areas in which the network should work to see changes: developing advocacy activities, working on visibility and transversal communication, ensuring better access to market, developing new ways of working with beneficiaries or encouraging team work between organisations… Finally, to reach those goals, the Net-Works project partners reflected on the potential collaborations to work on: from education and labour ministries, to local labour agencies, other networks, researchers, public and private sector institutions and tax professional bodies.
Overall, the participants were happy about the results of this peer-to-peer session and found it very inspiring and interesting. As the goal of the project is to help new networks to develop and to strengthen others, it is fundamental to work on those questions and define what a network can do and how. The partners also learned new approaches on working as well as the challenges faced in other countries.