Experimentation is the heart of the project: in this phase, the model of skills evaluation, that has been created during the Planning phase, will be offered to 42 groups of 10 asylum seekers, for a total of 420 final beneficiaries.
The experimentation will be conducted on the entire Italian territory by 7 partner bodies, selected in the attempt of ensuring the widest possible heterogeneity about: type (some organizations provide direct reception, while others experience at third-party centres), size (each organization is responsible for a variable number of groups, from a minimum of 2 up to a maximum of 8), territoriality (experimentation involves 6 Italian regions for a total of 13 provinces: Catania, Como, Enna, L'Aquila, Milano, Monza Brianza, Pescara, Roma, Siracusa, Sondrio, Udine, Varese, Verona).
Each group will speak the language that is more familiar to the participants. Wherever possible, homogeneous groups will be created per country of origin in order to facilitate the sharing and description of training experiences. The programme is conducted by the operators of the respective partner bodies, specially selected and specifically trained by the researchers of the Università Cattolica. Some of them are Italian and others of foreign origin: this is also a feature of the heterogeneity wanted to better understand the potentialities and limits of the two different conditions.
Training of partner operators who will be carry out the experimentation
Experimentation of the ESPAR protocol directly on final beneficiaries
The experimentation phase of the ESPaR model is going on at full speed: about a third of the groups have completed their adventure and can now proudly show their "skills passport". The attendance rate is very high, there are really only a few cases in which a participant has missed a meeting, and this is an important sign of the fact that they understand, at least in part, the benefit of what is being offered to them.
Yordanos, an operator who has followed a group of African-born women, tells us that "the project is clearly strategic in identifying past experiences as it encourages the participants to think about their wishes and skills and to plan future activities for their job placement.
Almost all users have significantly improved during this experience. If we compare the very first interviews to the more recent ones, many participants have managed to redesign their plans and reconsider their desires about the future in a more realistic way. In fact, at the beginning of their ESPaR journey some of the users tended to underestimate their work experience while others tended to blow it out of proportion, thus making it not trustworthy."
Along with the experimentation activities, operators have the chance to meet periodically, via teleconference, in order to exchange views and suggestions about strengths and weaknesses of the whole process, and then pass on the useful information to those who have designed the model, in order to optimize it. Moreover, the evaluation process will also start soon. 42 structured interviews will be carried out, one for each group, focusing on the features that distinguish the groups, on the effectiveness and criticality of each meeting, and on the collection of suggestions aiming to optimize the whole process.
One of the issues on which we are starting to think about is the group composition: where there is homogeneity, at least at a linguistic level, and an appropriate qualification level, the model seems to work as expected. In the case of less structured groups, made of less qualified participants, we’ll try to change some exercises in order to make them more enjoyable.
Ali is one of the ESPaR project operators and is the one who had the honour of completing the first of the 42 group programmes that are part of the model experimentation.
The programme he reported to us has been conducted in Urdu, Pakistan's national language, but those who attended decided to draft the final document in Italian and English, thus confirming their willingness to settle into and integrate with our nation. Ali told us he was very impressed by their ambition and strong motivation to take concrete action, starting from learning the Italian language, in order to reshape their careers and improve their quality of life standards.
Migrants have arrived in Italy after having already gained different work experiences in Europe, and this is shown by their ability to deal with different people by gender, ethnicity and culture.
What they liked most was the chance to actually become aware of their real skills and, simultaneously, to better understand how these can be used within the Italian context.
Although they had to deal with individual interviews, which they were not used to and that they initially experienced with a little discomfort, at the end of this phase they were very happy with the results. This is demonstrated by the fact that they did not miss a meeting and were obviously sorry for the end of the experience.
We wish them that their "ESPaR passport" will truly be a pass for reaching the working conditions they want. We deeply thank Ali and the other operators for the commitment and professionalism they are investing in this experience.
With the Training of the operators, the ESPaR model experimentation has officially begun.
On 20th and 21st March, at the Università Cattolica in Milan (Buonarroti), two days of training had been conducted, and will be followed by remote training and monitoring for a total of two more days.
There were 21 operators from 7 partner bodies, who came from Catania, Rome, Udine, Verona, Seveso, Sondrio, Varese, Como, Sesto San Giovanni and Milan. During the upcoming months they will experience the intervention model with 42 groups of 10 refugees or asylum seekers, proposing activities that they partially have experienced themselves.