Over 70% of the unemployed trained by FIT (Ireland) & Interface3 (Belgium) find a job in technology

The VET (Vocational Education & Training) programs led by Telecentre-Europe's members Fast Track to IT (FIT, Ireland) and Interface3 (Belgium) are good examples that show how many long-term unemployed people can succeed in high skills training programmes and find a quality job related to technology.

Challenging the 'old way of doing things'

Both organizations challenge the believe that the long term unemployed - especially from the more disadvantaged communities - are not capable of succeeding in high skills training programmes and therefore are not coming forward as participants. According to FIT & Interface3, the problem lies in the fact that most existing VET systems & providers do not effectively engage marginalised individuals with high aptitudes into serious skills development.

Their mission is to meet the recruitment needs of the technology sector by providing training, support and job opportunities for the unemployed. Participants in the programmes do not necessarily need to have a background in technology -  though people who do are also welcome to apply. Courses last up to six months and are delivered in partnership with public providers.

Both organizations are not-for-profit companies which uniquely bring leadership from the ICT industry to collaborate with communities, government and its agencies. They look for the hidden talent in people and do not judge them from their previous work history or existing qualifications, but instead help them to see their potential and take the steps to build on their natural talent. They provide accces to market led ICT skills training combined with soft skills and offer a highly effective set of 'wrap around' supports which are designed to help participants make the journey from unemployment to jobs and careers.

Evidence, Metrics, Impact!

In Ireland and since 1999, over 11.000 unemployed people have completed an FIT ICT training and 8.500 (77%) got jobs. A quarter of FIT participants in Ireland are aged 25 or under, and the organization worked with youthreach programmes through the country to facilitate the upskilling of early school leavers for a number of years. Now FIT is working with support from Microsoft to develop a ‘Smart Youth – Smart Skills’ initiative for Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In Belgium and since 1988, 5.000 women have received IT training at Interface3 and 70% of them found quality jobs in the IT field or in other professional fields very much affected by IT. Interface3 is a training centre run by women for women and each year trains 400 women job seekers who gain ICT skills in areas such as web development, system administrating and IT helpdesk.

And in times of crisis?

Both organizations closely engage the industry and work at the interface between skills demand from employers and public training provision. This "skills ecosystem analysis" (OECD 2008) aspect is more important than ever, with ICT now effectively a global marketplace and ICT skills shortages growing in most countries.

In times of recession, FIT and Interface3 still prioritise job outcomes and try to enhance those by internships and work experience periods which can lead to jobs. There are still vacancies in the labour market due to some sectors still experiencing growth and due to job churn, which still takes place, even in recession.

This article is based on:
  • FIT Director George Ryan's contributions [1 | 2] a the Digital Agenda for Europe Engagement Platform
  • The Sunday Business Post 24 June 2012 newspaper's review 'The right kind of recruitment'
  • Interviews with Interface3 Director Laure Lemaire and with Elena Lanzoni, Communications and Industry Relation Manager
  • My personal experience working for Interface3 as a webredactor & content manager during 2003-2007

» related article: "Greenterface3: a technical workshop for girls by girls" by Elena Lanzoni

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