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SymfoS – A new method for career and educational guidance based on symbols

SymfoS – Symbols for Success project promotes an innovative education and career guidance method addressed to young disadvantaged people based on sets of symbols.

Very often the traditional counselling methods are aimed at young people who have advanced writing and reading skills and are already supported by a strong social system. These kind of interventions can be ineffective with young people who, for various reasons, find difficulties in expressing in words their situation, their needs and their goals for the future. Working with symbols is an opportunity for them to use a universal language to do it.

What are SymfoS aims? On one hand, SymfoS aims to support young people who encounter difficulties in finding their own pathway within the education system and labour market to set their own goals for their future. On the other hand aims to provide educational guidance and professional operators a holistic method that improves the overall quality of counselling.

The first international project meeting of SymfoS  was held the 9th and 10th November St. Pölten (Austria). The meeting, hosted by Hafelekar, project coordinator, was the occasion for all project partners to have a first insight of the work with symbols thanks to a practical demonstration that confirmed the great potential that this method can have if applied in their working contexts.

During the meeting the first version of the on-line training platform and virtual trainer network was presented together with the strategy for project dissemination and first results of the stakeholder analysis.

This last is developed in order to implement effectively the SymfoS method in all partner countries: Austria, Germany, Spain, Ireland and Italy. Since its start, the project establishes contacts with relevant stakeholders: decision makers in Vocational and Educational Training sector with the aim to provide them a ready to use method to be adopted in their organisations and schools; policy makers in charge of recognition tools for skills and qualification to start a certification process for the Train the Trainer curriculum and for the recognition of the learning outcomes for young people.

The development of the Generic framework for the implementation of Symbol work already started and will be completed with national reports that collect information on traditions and existing experiences around the Symbol work.

Next steps of the project will be the development of the Basic-Clearing methodology, a tool to orient clients quickly from basic counselling interventions gradually towards different levels of work with symbols, selected according to their needs.

Besides, three more career guidance tools will be developed:

  • Symbol counselling scenarios like “Life Road Map”, “Planning Map”, “Exploration of inner images” and “Islands of Emotions”;
  • Individual pathways;
  • Peer buddy System.

In March 2017, in Düren (Germany), a group of trainers sent by partner’s organisations will receive the Train the Trainer to learn to use SymfoS method in their country. After their return, it will begin the testing phase of the project. The trainers will experience the method and the new working materials of which, in the meantime, the partners will be equipped.

These materials consist in wooden cases containing objects that can be associated with an universal meaning, but held in the hands of a person can assume a thousand different meanings according to the personal experience of each one.

SymfoS partnership:

  • Hafelekar (Austria) – project coordinator
  • Asociacion Caminos (Spain)
  • BALLYMUN JOB CENTRE (Ireland)
  • Sozialwerk Düren (Germany)
  • ZeMiT (Austria)
  • CESIE (Italia)

SymfoS is a 30-month project financed by the Erasmus+ Programme, Key Action 2 – Strategic Partnership VET.  Please, visit SymfoS on Facebook and LinkedIn.

For further information on the project, contact Caterina Impastato: caterina.impastato@cecie.org