CoMWork is a participatory research project that aims to contribute to innovation progress in the domain of practices promoting social welfare, especially in the domain of NEET (A young person Not in Education, Employment, or Training”).

The term NEET is used to describe young people who are not engaged in any form of employment, education or training. In recent years, the term has come into the policy debate due to disproportionate impact of recession for young people (under 30 years old). The unemployment rate for this population segment is nearly doubles that of the average rate.

The research focuses are all extremely charged with meaning and equally indispensable for each other:

  • acquired competences in informal and non-formal contexts by social professionals who carry out their professional activities in social and education fields;
  • Today, the NEET population is one of the main beneficiaries of the European community resources and, in this research, the recipients also of professional services;
  • training and competence recognition and validation system, in European terms, to ensure transparency and mobility to people.

These focuses of research will be object of analysis to achieve the main objective of the project that is to build the Learning Unit.

In each country (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria), partners analyse needs and practices in the training of professionals working with NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training).

Social and educational workers are key figures for many inclusion and employability policies success, with particular attention to those who are engaged in services dealing with NEET.

CoMWork aims to:

  • disseminate the application of competence analysis model in social work field;
  • share the model with policy makers and companies;
  • promote the use of European tools to recognize competences;
  • develop a guidance and training model to recognize and validate competences of social and educational professionals;
  • produce learning units for informal and non-formal competences of socio-educational professionals dealing with NEETs.

In the project, partners are:

  • Italy: University Roma Tre, Department of Education; the Lazio Region; People and Il laboratorio.
  • Spain: University of Valladolid.
  • Bulgaria: Znanie Association.
  • Portugal: Caixa de Mitos.

The presence of universities along with associations, which work daily with young people and socio-educational professionals, has been crucial to better understand who is involved in it and the difficulties in sharing empowerment paths.

The main outputs of the project are:

  • a comparative report on strategic informal and non-formal competences of social and educational professionals;
  • a guidance and training model:
  • guidelines for trainers:
  • three learning units.

In the first stage of the research, data were collected in the countries involved in the project.

Every partner organised focus group and interviews to gather information from social operators and key individuals in the domain of socio educational services (users as well). The aim was to detect the main characteristics of NEET and to get a first picture of main competences needed to work with them, (strategic and complexes competences) and to accompany them in order to improve their chances in the educational and training activities and in the labour market.

The result of this first stage was a comparative report and the construction of the model for guidance and training.

Definition and common definition, comparative work, competences debate, sharing methodology facing NEET condition were the basis to conceive a subject centred learning program, based on training activities, which involve young people, promote their participation in the society, and enhance their self-management capacity.

The three main areas of strategic competence are:

  1. The collective competences of a team and a network;
  2. The motivational and empowerment competences;
  3. The planning and change management competences.

The first draft of learning unit was discussed by the international group and subsequently presented in the different countries.

An open audit and focus group were organised at a local level in order to verify its efficacy and to collect suggestions about the necessary competences detected from the socio-educational workers involved with NEET.

Peer review activity, based also on the evaluation of answers to a questionnaire, and distributed among social workers (experiences, biographies etc.).

Dissemination events like workshops.

The final version of the training model and the learning unit include the feedback given during the different activities in the different countries, as well.

The COMWORK group became more and more aware of the fact that it is very difficult to have a unique and definitive model.

Methods and tools have to keep their characteristic of flexibility in the sense that they should be a panel of suggestions, which can be combined in a different way in each concrete situation.

It is very important to stress it in the training of social workers so that they understand the spirit of the theoretical framework in order to use the tools very careful and open to the necessity of small or big transformation and adaptation to the contexts and to the people they have in front of them.