Individual learning and peer support in SymfoS career guidance approach

Is it possible to improve the system of scholastic and professional orientation supporting educators and teachers working with disadvantaged young people?

In almost two years of implementation of the SymfoS project a significant number of professionals have been trained and are now regularly conducting counselling sessions using SymfoS education and career guidance approach. This work has been fully documented in manuals describing the basic approach of SymfoS and single methods used, while new tools are under development.

During the 4° Transnational Project Meeting, hosted in the new premises of Ballymun Job Center (Dublin), the 17th and 18th June 2018, the consortium discussed these successes and the next important steps of the project.

The first day of the meeting the partners presented the project implementation progresses in each country and how SymfoS methodology has been integrated in their daily business. Progresses on main intellectual output has also been made and presented. Among all:

  • The SymfoS Training Platform and virtual trainer networkhas been upgraded and new functionalities introduced: it is already possible to read the profiles of the international SymfoS trainers and soon a forum and training area will be officially launched.
  • The partners exchanged also their experience collected and presented in the Concept note IO5: Methodology for individual learning and career pathways, supported by peers or buddies:The methodology (with national specifications) developed a practical step in the guidance process using a more holistic approach of peer support, in keeping with the SymfoS ethos. The manual is available for download in the Results page of SymfoS platform.

The second day of the meeting was dedicated to the workshop on Transfer Handbook for SymfoS-Methodology and project sustainability. The partners shared the lessons learned from the implementation of SymfoS methodology in each organisation and discussed how to transfer this experience to other organisations and institutions in the education and career guidance sector.

The reflections shared during the workshop will be integrated in a key document for the project: The Transfer Handbook for SymfoS-Methodology. This manual will be of support for all decision makers in VET-provides, schools and youth organisations and at policy level for the introduction of SymfoS approach in new organisations and institutions.

The Curriculum and Profile of competencies for “SymfoS Trainer”, which aims at identifying and training appropriate staff to carry out SymfoS guiding method, has been designed to meet ECVET requirements and will be officially presented in the next months.

Working with symbols: towards the creation of a SymfoS trainers network in Sicily

Is it possible to support educators and teachers working with disadvantaged young people and at the same time to improve the system of scholastic and professional orientation?

Two intense afternoons of work involved a group of Sicilian social workers, teachers, psychologists, educators who took part in the  SymfoStraining for trainers on the 5th and 6th April at Quarto Tempo in Palermo (Italy).

The group was composed of professionals and representatives of local and regional institutions and organizations offering education and professional guidance service aimed at disadvantaged young people. For all of them, the SymfoS approach represents an alternative method compared to traditional working methods that are common in the field of educational and vocational guidance and the training offered a potential new set of working tools to adopt.

The first afternoon was dedicated to the origins of the symbol work and to the introduction of the principles underlying this type of work. The work with symbols was initiated in Germany in the psychotherapy field and is then developed with a slightly different purpose within the European project SymfoS. The method is in fact used in education and career guidance specially to support young people with communication difficulties.

The first practical demonstration introduced the opening technique of the SymfoS counselling process: “The Basic Clearing”. This technique is a tool that allows to quickly identify the needs of the client and the degree of intervention the young person needs and establish the necessary support category (information, professional guidance or holistic guidance).

In this practical demonstration the participants of the training were actively involved in order to allow them to experience first-hand the intervention and alternate in the different roles involved in a SymfoS session: the client, the observer and the consultant.

>Download Symfos Basic Clearing here

During the second afternoon was introduced the second SymfoS consulting technique, called “The resources and competence pathway”; an intervention aimed at exploring the young person’s life path, her/his objectives and the resources she/he can use to achieve a concrete goal. Also, in this case the demonstration actively involved the participants.

As part of the SymfoS project, a methodology for group work has also been developed, focused on the involvement of peers, which integrates the other consulting scenarios: Methodology for individual learning and career pathways, supported by peers or buddies, introduced to the participants during the training but will soon be published, in the download area of project site

A special training session was dedicated to the presentation of all work and learning materials: wooden boxes, symbols, support materials and training manuals that can be downloaded from in 5 languages. The group received instructions on how to create the own work kit and opened a discuss on possible adoption of the method in own working environments.

SymfoS is creating an international network of trainers that will support the work of the new SymfoS trainers at the local level so that more and more young people can take advantage of this alternative guidance service.

Certified Train the Trainer Event in Murcia

From march 14 to March 16 the first part of the certified Train the Trainer Event took place in Murcia with 15 participants. The training is a cooperation with the Regional Service for Employment and Education of the Regional Murcia. The second part of the 40 hours ftf Training will take place from april 11th to 13th.

Peer Buddy System Piloting

The Peer Buddy System was developed to support young people in making and achieving their career goals, through gaining connections and links with other young people.

The Peer Buddy System has been piloted in Ireland among a group of young people, taking part in an IT course. After engaging with other SymfoS tools (such as the Basic Clearing, Resource/Competency Pathways) the members of the group were asked to express their career goal and were grouped into pairs based on these goals. Over the following weeks, each pair met outside of course time (e.g. over a cup of coffee or for a walk) to talk about their goals and to choose “actions” they planned to take. Re-entering the group setting, each pair presented their learnings from these meet-ups, the actions they chose and why they chose them, and the problems or challenges they discussed or tried to overcome toward achieving their actions. A WhatsApp group was created in which the group can discuss their experiences and any advice or queries they might have for one another. After completing this phase of the peer buddy system, the groups were then switched and each person was paired with a new partner. It is hoped that this system of information sharing and support will help this group to build on their soft skills, develop their individual networks and ultimately achieve their career goals.