Regional staff exchanges on capacity-building study visit for guidance service for those with disadvantages

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In September 2023, five experts from the Department of Working Life of the Borås Municipality (Sweden) participated in a job shadowing in Stuttgart (Baden-Württemberg). The exchange, funded by the Erasmus+ Mobility grant, aimed at learning from German guidance services work with persons with disadvantages. 

The exchange idea was born out of Borås Municipality’s colleague’s willingness to get to know the German guidance system, as both countries are facing similar labour market challenges. Moreover, both are members of the EARLALL network, which offers a trustful platform to build mobility exchanges and partnerships between its members and associate members. Another good example of this cooperation is the Erasmus+ project NEETs for NEETs – Co-creating Social Sustainability, in which EARLALL, Borås Municipality and Baden-Württemberg are participating and which will hold its final conference on 29.11 in Brussels. 

Learning from the Baden-Württemberg Guidance Department services

The colleagues from Borås aimed to learn and compare examples from Germany on what sort of services are available for persons who have difficulty finding employment due to different sorts of disadvantages. Borås Municipality Department of Working Life provides guidance, skills, and services for people with all kinds of backgrounds such as new immigrants in need of orientation or perhaps lacking certain skills for working life, youth not having a completed education or employment background, persons suffering from mental health issues, post-addiction life or post-incarceration. Therefore, they were curious to learn about how it works in Stuttgart with work placements within companies or other entities that are not necessarily municipal. 

Learning outcomes

The job shadowing participants shared their main learning lessons from the exchange: 

  1. Job Centers are a merger between municipal and state agencies for labour market services. They can support individuals in-depth and by their different means of learning and personal health needs. A lot of effort is put into trauma work and counselling. 
  2. First and second labour market. In Germany, they distinguish between the regular labour market and the social project employment market. That makes it easier to understand and meet goals met by the different partners involved. It can be an important distinction for placements and partnerships with businesses. 
  3. There is strong support through NGOs for guiding persons at risk of becoming criminal offenders or at risk of returning to a criminal life.
  4. Through NGOs, there are services provided for youth who have the most difficult path to a form of employment. They are referred from the Job Center.
  5. In Baden-Württemberg, they work to provide on-the-job upskilling of individuals already in employment to increase the opportunity and well-being of citizens.

Nicholas Waller, one of the participants in the exchange, described the experience as

Refreshing and inspiring. It created perhaps even more curiosity and a desire to continue looking for partnerships to strengthen the way we work at home and how we can perhaps work together.”