Tag Archives: European

European Centre for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Conference

Building a picture of achievement

Building a picture of personal achievement

The final conference for our Bulgarian partnership with the European Centre for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship took place in Plevin. The project aim was to support 300 young people into employment over a twelve month period by conducting three Rickter Scale Interviews, two on-line consultations and giving access to on-line resources with regard to building job preparation skills.

The outcome is that practitioners have engaged with over 300 young people and have supported 48% into employment.

The conference audience was made up of some of the young people who had participated, employers, professionals and representatives from the Labour Bureau.

Elena Todorova Ivanova-Kiritsova, Personal and Human Communities Development Association opened the conference and explained the aims of the project, Penka Spasova, Chairperson of RESC Pleven talked about the need for this type of work, Keith Stead, The Rickter Company spoke about the outcomes that were evidenced through using Rickter and the IMS, and Nan Wood, The Rickter Company talked about the training and input that we had with regard to reviewing and verifying best practice.

There was a display of coloured boxes with words written on them such as; confidence, motivation, success etc and after each person spoke; including the young people and some of the practitioners, they were asked to select a box that represented what they had gained from the project and they were constructed to offer up a physical picture of what had been achieved.

The conference was a huge success, with everyone involved delighted by the outcomes.

European Media Addiction Project visits Newcastle

Boy Playing a Video Game

This week sees the Rickter Company playing host to our partners in our Plan 2.0 Project which is working with parents to help them identify the risks their children face of cyber-bullying and addiction to computer games and social media.

Partners from Germany, Romania and Austria will join us in Newcastle where we will be looking at an adaptation of a model of work called “LAN Party” which has been developed in Germany.

Within this meeting we will also be discussing youth protection and we will have a presentation from Nathalie Noret, Senior Lecturer from the University of York St John and a leading researcher and speaker on cyber-bullying. We also plan to take our visitors on a walking trip around Newcastle, visiting the castle and other places of interest.

TOI ‘Scaling New Heights’ Conference | September 4th, 2013

SNH 03 NW

The conference was hosted by Northumbria University in the Great Hall of the Sutherland Building. In excess of 50 people attended from a variety of public, private and third sector organisations. The conference was moderated by Professor Andrea Fleschenberg PhD, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan who did a wonderful job of keeping everyone on task and on time.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor George Pattison welcomed everyone and shared his thoughts on how important this type of European work is for people who are struggling due to long term unemployment, and identifying some areas within his own constituency as a local councillor where the use of the Rickter Process would be particularly useful. 

SNH 05 - Prof Andrea Fleschenberg_ Sherrif & Deputy Lord Mayor George Pattison

Nan Wood, Director of Operations, The Rickter Company spoke about the background of the Rickter Scale® which is the innovation being transferred in this project. She explained the process of using the board, giving examples of good practice in the UK and described the transition the partner organisations had made from working together on a previous Leonardo Project to this Transfer of Innovation, ‘Scaling New Heights’.

SNH 08 session

Keith Stead, CEO, The Rickter Company then presented the outcomes of the project highlighting all of the hard work and dedication of the Partners. The main areas presented looked at the distance travelled towards goals for each country and the challenges that each client group faced. It was interesting to note that the barriers to employment faced by clients in Germany, Greece and Italy were no different to those in the United Kingdom.

SNH 15 - Aristea Liarokapi, Antonia Torrens, Marina Zotaki, Eleni Koulosousa

The afternoon sessions started with a video of the May 2012 earthquake in the Carpi region of Italy, which hugely affected the people who were taking part in the project, both as practitioners and as clients. It was noted that where the Richter Scale measured the impact on the ground that day, the Rickter Scale® measured the impact it had on the people.

SNH 02 - Serena DAngelo, Licia Boccaletti

SNH020 session

We then moved on to participate in an ‘Information Carousel’ where each country had their own stand in the room and the audience, who had been divided into four groups, visited each one for 15 minutes and then moved on – speed dating with a difference! It offered the audience an opportunity to hear first hand from each partner country their experiences and outcomes of using the Rickter Scale®. This was very well received and was one of the highlights of the conference.

SNH021 session

 

SNH023 sessionProfessor Andrea Fleschenberg then hosted a Talk Show to share good practice where set questions were asked of the guests: Jon Clapham, Dept of Work and Pensions; Mick Carey, Careers Europe and Kushwanth Koya, Northumbria University.

SNH024 session

This was followed by the Keynote Speaker, Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE who talked about the importance of measuring soft indicators and shared some of the report she has recently presented to Government Ministers through the National Careers Council entitled, “An Aspirational Nation” and its objective as Dr Hughes described it of “a career for life”.

SNH026 Dr Deirdre Hughes_NW_RH

The conference came to a close with representatives from each country sharing their personal experiences of the project.

SNH 04 - Alfons Müller Rita Neidhardt

Everyone felt that the partnership had worked particularly well and Alfons Muller, ZIB, Germany who is the Project Coordinator, expressed his gratitude for the dedication of all the partners and remarked on how much everyone has gained professionally, personally and culturally from this Transfer of Innovation.

SNH 14 - Keith  Licia Boccaletti - Alfons Müller  Aristea Liarokap

Some examples of feedback we have received since the Conference:

“I enjoyed hearing about the Scaling New Heights project and that we are all encountering similar issues, whether we are in the UK or elsewhere”.

“Just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to hear what you and the team have been up to here and across Europe. It was a fascinating conference day… loads of information and simply inspirational (as things with the Rickter Scale® tend to be)”.

First of all just to say I thought the day went exceptionally well last week – especially the carousel – feedback was clear, well presented and very positive, big well done!”

Measuring Earthquakes

Rickter Scale Board with OverlaysThe 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit at around 4am local time on Sunday, 20 May 2012, in the Emilia Romagna region of Northern Italy between the historic cities of Bologna, Modena and Ferrara. Within that triangle lies the town of Carpi, the home of our partner organisation Anziani e Non Solo.

The quake was almost as powerful as one which devastated the central region of Abruzzo in 2009, killing more than 300 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

Although there were far fewer casualties from Sunday’s earthquake, it was felt as far away as Venice, the German-speaking South Tyrol region of far northern Italy and the Friuli region on the border with Slovenia.

Thousands of panic-stricken residents ran out into the streets in their nightclothes, as statues crashed down from centuries-old palazzi and the roofs of churches collapsed.

The ministry of cultural heritage in Rome said damage to historic buildings and the artistic treasures they contained was “significant”.

Emilia Romagna is renowned for its balsamic vinegar and prosciutto ham, and the region’s culinary icons did not escape damage either. The balsamic vinegar loft that we had visited in Carpi only months earlier was destroyed.

Enzo Boschi, a reputed seismologist, said it was the biggest earthquake to have hit the region for centuries. And as experts warned of the dangers of aftershocks, a strong new quake of 5.1 on the Richter Scale hit the region in the afternoon, with further aftershocks following for several days.

(Acknowledgement for some of the above to Nick Squires: The Telegraph – online, 20 May 2012)

We have always said that like the Richter Scale that measures movement in the earth, our own Rickter Scale® measures movement in people. In this instance, by using the Rickter Scale® it was also possible to measure the impact that the earthquake had on the people of Carpi – at least those who were the clients of Anziani e Non Solo.

Our partner’s headquarters and training facilities were so damaged, and their activities so badly disrupted that no client interviews could take place for three months. However, once the Rickter Scale® interviews resumed, it became apparent just how much the May 20th earthquake had impacted on the lives of ordinary people.

The Rickter Scale® does not only measure how people reflect the circumstances of their lives by simply scaling those responses from zero to ten. For each scaling, the individual is recording precisely how they are thinking and how they are feeling about their own personal experiences, and by that means they tell their life’s story.

And so in the months following the earthquake, the team of practitioners at Anziani e Non Solo were learning exactly how much their clients had been in a heightened state of stress, how they felt altogether more vulnerable and anxious, not only in terms of fearing more aftershocks, but in their personal lives, economically and socially.

On the Richter Scale, the earthquake had measured 6.0. On the Rickter Scale® that same event had subsequently been recorded as having a far reaching and highly significant impact that touched every part of every individual’s life who experienced it. Even client’s responses to the employability questions which were part of our Transfer of Innovation project – each client’s quantitative scalings and qualitative narrative interpretation, clearly show how the people of Carpi were affected.

The Rickter Scale® Process does not only record the individual’s present state, but offers the opportunity to make informed choices and take responsibility for setting goals and agreeing action plans for the future. It may just be, as a result of the partnership being caught up in this devastating event, that together we can develop a new Frame of Reference – a specific set of cue questions that can be put to those who find their world turned upside down by similar disasters anywhere in the world: an adaptation of the Rickter Scale® Process that could effectively help to lay the foundations for rebuilding the lives of both individuals and communities: a means of creating hope and determination out of tragedy.

Positive Outcomes from the Bulgaria Conference

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Keith and I returned to Plevin, Bulgaria for the Sustained Employment Project conference on the 8th July.  We were given a very warm welcome by Elena Ivanova-Kiritsova and Penka Spasova who have been managing the project and also by the Practitioners who have been doing all of the interviews. Over the past year we have built up wonderful friendships with this group of very professional people. The conference was well attended by representatives from various partner agencies and government departments.

When originally developed the Sustained Employment Model was to look at how we could support unemployed people by using the Rickter Scale® to access training and employment. For those who were employed it would be used to help them maintain and grow within their work situation. With this in mind 650 people were interviewed; 300 unemployed, 300 employed and 50 employers. This work was undertaken by 10 Practitioners, expertly managed by Elena and Ira Nikolova. The role of the Rickter Company was to train these experts and help them develop a dedicated overlay of questions to engage with clients and evidence the work being done. The group met in Newcastle for a consultation and introduction to the model and later were trained in Plevin.

BG Trg Group

The Practitioners had to find the people to participate in the project and then conduct the initial interview and review interviews, all within a period of five months. The Rickter Company monitored the practice of these experts. The outcomes from the interviews have been excellent and the Practitioners stood up at the conference and gave their feedback of the impact that it had on people’s lives and a few case studies of their experiences in using the Rickter Scale®. Identifying choice was one area that stood out as being an important factor for some of the unemployed people and for employers it was raising awareness of the importance of supporting and valuing staff. One unemployed person who had been supported by the project gave very positive feedback on his experience of being on the receiving end of the Rickter Board. 

We were interviewed by the press before the conference, as this model is being used to feed back results to the Department of Labour and is an important and innovative way of working that has never been used in Bulgaria before.

Keith gave an informed presentation on the outcome of the final report and I talked about the positive work of everyone involved and gave examples of where Rickter is being used in different arenas within our work in the UK and other parts of Europe.  At this point I must say that had it not been for our expert translator, Kalina Ilieva perhaps things might not have gone so smoothly! Elena and Penka spoke of the importance of the outcomes of using Rickter and the impact it was having on the people of Plevin; 14% of the participants who were unemployed have gained employment.  Elena also spoke about how this model could have an impact on the whole of Bulgaria and the way people in services work.

HPIM1179.JPG

This project has been such a success that we have been invited to participate in a new one starting in August that will see Rickter offered to young people to gain entrepreneurial skills.

You can read the final Project Report here

Nan Wood, Director of Operations

 

Grundtvig Media Addictions Project Questionnaire

Young Girl at School Holding a Computer MousePlease will you help us by completing this Questionnaire (Word Document) (Opens in new window)

We are gathering information for a European project, looking at the problems children might experience with cyber-bullying and over-use or inappropriate use of the internet, and want to know about your concerns as adults and professionals.

Taking just a few minutes to complete and return the Questionnaire will be most valuable to us. Thank you.

Please forward your questionnaire by 30th April to keith@rickterscale.com

Keith Stead: Director of The Rickter Company and UK member of the Grundtvig Plan 2.0 Project.

New Media Project

The Rickter Company, along with services from Bulgaria, Romania and Germany recently became a partner in a Grundtvig European Project which is entitled, “Professionalization of pedagogic personnel in adult education for parents critically reflected dealing with media“.

So, I hear you ask yourself what is that all about?

Germany is the lead partner in this project and has developed a model of working with parents to help them become more aware and tackle computer addiction in children. These addictions are around social media sites, gaming etc. The aim of the project is to look at each country and develop a social study on methods and interventions regarding media competence. There will be a website developed to publish the results and a forum to effectively exchange ideas and methods.

The final outcome will be to develop a concept for media education within adult education. Our first meeting was in Luneburg, Germany where we discussed the project and responsibilities of each partner and the outline of work over the next two years.

Bernd Werner

The photograph shows Keith and I with Bernd Werner of Stiftung Medien-and Online Sucht who were our hosts. We were shown around Luneburg Town Hall where we met with the mayor and explained the project and partnership. Our next meeting is in Romania in June 2013 and I will keep you up to date on our progress.

Bulgarian Partnership visit to Newcastle

Keith and I were joined by a great group of people last week from Bulgaria when we spent five days in Newcastle exploring how our project on Sustained Employment would progress.

Bulgarian Project 2There was Elena Kiritsova who is the Chairperson of the Development of Personnel and Human Resources Service in Plevin District.  Elena thought that this project was needed with regard to people making proper career choices with the support and involvement of services and employers.  She said, “We expect to enrich our experience and give a good quality service”.  The expectation is to make this model one that is accepted by government bodies in Bulgaria.

The other partner represented by Chairperson, Penka Spasova is the Original Enterprise Support Centre which represents business members, education organisations, etc in the Plevin municipality.  They offer training and support to business enterprises, employers and those who are unemployed in the region.  Within this work they realise that good skills levels are very important and they would like to encourage self assessment.  Aneliya Rangelova, Silvia Tzvetkova and Aleksandar Krastev also attended and are Psychologists and Professors who teach in universities and also work in various specialist areas; Psychology courses at Plevin University and the Medical University, motivational courses for long term unemployed, primary schools raising pupil self-esteem, police who are suffering ‘burn out’, families at risk, people with chronic conditions such as cancer etc.  The expectations of being part of this project as described by Silvia is, “In a year’s time to have a detailed practical and theoretical course for medical students based on the Rickter Scale® model”.  Rick also came along and shared his development experience of why the Rickter Scale® had come into being and the impact it had even in the early stages, which was a very positive grounding to get us started.

We looked at a Social Survey which they had commissioned in Plevin around assessment and long term unemployed people (those who had not worked for longer than two years), employed people and employers.  They sampled 547 employed individuals, 500 unemployed individuals and conducted 101 employer interviews.  The outcomes were no different to those attitudes and barriers we experience in the UK.  In that, a small majority of unemployed people were optimistic about their future to get work, overcome problems and adapt to changes.  There were however quite a large number who share a pessimism for the future with regard to employment which leads to frustration and depression.  Salary was also identified as a motivational factor, but people didn’t connect salary level to skills and abilities.  It was identified that this  can be a huge barrier to maintaining employment and being realistic about job choices in the first place.  A lot of the individuals interviewed were against assessment.  From the outcome of the discussion we had this is around assessment being done to them, rather than with them. It was also shown that some employers are not enthusiastic about assessment, some feeling it was something dictated to them, especially local authority organisations.  Because we would like to encourage positive outcomes for the individuals it has been decided to approach those employers who are displaying quality standards similar to Investment in People for the time that this project will run.  Ground work will be required with employers to introduce them to the Sustained Employment Model and to demonstrate the advantages of working in this partnership to gain positive outcomes.  As the Job Centre in Plevin is the main source for referrals it has also been decided to do raise awareness of the model with staff there to encourage partnership working.  It was said that our first aim is to, “Open the door” and then build on the foundation to take this way of working forward.

The group were introduced to the Rickter Scale® through completing baseline profiles for themselves on the board, powerpoint presentations and examples of where and how we work.  Theory and practice was defined and a demonstration interview using the Rickter Scale® showed how to engage.  It also made clear the impact the use of the board can have around ownership, raising personal awareness and committing to an achievable action plan.  There was an introduction to the Rickter Impact Management System indicating the reports and outcomes it could evidence for individuals, funders and managers.

We visited Seaham to demonstrate the downfall of industry and the high rise of unemployment, especially in the youth of the area.  Later Jon Clapham, Job Centre Plus came and spoke with the group and gave a very interesting account of the work that he and his team had done in this area among others in working with families.  This is where there were at least two generations of unemployment and benefit claimants.  He said that it was the small things that stopped people moving forward, i.e. money management, social isolation in their own communities etc and because people had, “accepted their lot and didn’t know of any different way of life, that they thought they were okay”.  It had only been when Jon’s team started to work with them that they realised there could be wider choices and perhaps they had higher expectations.  He thought the use of the Rickter Scale® in this work had been invaluable.  The group recognised the similarities of the barriers to employment within their own experiences in Bulgaria.  They thought Jon’s work an excellent example of good practice.  Throughout the week we shared good practice and I used our model of the work done in Belfast to demonstrate positive outcomes.  This I feel is because of what I see are similarities of progression around employment, communities and positive identifications of a country moving forward.

We worked together to define an overlay tailored to this project that could be used to connect with individuals in employment, those unemployed and employers.  Training of the Rickter Process, Action Planning and the IMS will take place in October in Plevin and again will be customised to the specific requirements of this project.

The big question is, how did we communicate?  The answer is, with two very good translators named Stanislav and Milla.  Milla was especially helpful and understood the importance of getting our own Rickter language across.

As it was most of the group’s first time in the UK we had a cultural visit to Durham where everyone was impressed by the cathedral, and some by the fish and chips!  There was also some shopping and pub visits to hear live music after the work was done for the day.  The week went very quickly and by the positive feedback given, we all felt that we have a great foundation established for this model to grow on.  Rick returned on Friday and surprised us with a cake which his daughter had made.

Bulgarian Project 1

It showed the Bulgarian Flag with Rickter to demonstrate our partnership and we also used it to help to celebrate Silvia’s birthday along with some treats from Bulgaria.  A very unique way to finish our time in Newcastle.

Adapting the Rickter Scale Process for marginalized groups moving towards employability

It’s great to report that our Transfer of Innovation Project with 3 European partners is now well and truly underway:

THE PROJECT: Scaling New Heights in VET – Adapting the Rickter Scale® Process to improve and monitor the journey of marginalized groups towards employability.

‘Scaling New Heights’ is a project funded by the European Commission, under the LLP-LDV Transfer of Innovation Programme.

612The central idea of the project is to adapt our Rickter Scale® Process and Impact Management System to the needs of different disadvantaged target beneficiary groups in the 4 participating countries: UK, Germany, Italy and Greece. The adaptation will also ensure that the Process will be both linguistically accurate and culture-specific for the participating organisations and their clients.

The assessment process will help the target beneficiary groups become aware of, and then build on pre-existing skills and attributes that they have previously not been in a position to evidence or validate, and of the distance they have travelled in acquiring their present skill level. This empowerment process can be an enormous confidence boost to them, enhancing both self-esteem and self-worth. It also serves them in accessing the labour market.

The target group for ZIB in Germany is women returners, many of whom are immigrants from Eastern Europe, working towards Vocational Qualifications.

In Greece our partner KMOP is a large NGO, who wants to use Rickter with people who have long-term mental health issues who live in supported accommodation which the organisation also runs.

In Italy, ANS are working with carers of the elderly who currently do not have the required qualifications to be officially recognized in the labour market.

Through the implementation of the Rickter Scale® Process, partner organisations will be able to adapt and improve their existing vocational methods and systems to the increased demands of the job market and ever more complex and diverse needs of their target groups.

During the project Nan wood and Keith Stead will represent the UK as part of the TOI Steering Group, with meetings hosted by each partner in Cologne, Germany, in Athens, Greece and in Carpi, Italy.

Staff of the partner organisations have already been trained and licensed by us in Newcastle as Rickter Scale® Practitioners. Having been introduced to the basic principles and theoretical models behind the Rickter Scale® Process, they trialled the use of the tool between December 2011 and February 2012 using the generic ‘Lifeboard’ Frame of Reference, gaining experience of how to support each individual user in developing an action plan.

At our Follow-up Training back in Newcastle in February, first locally adapted Overlay for the Scale was developed that the partners will now implement in their organisations until this September, when we will again review their feedback, together with an aggregation, analysis and interpretation of all IMS data.

On this basis, the Rickter Scale® Process will be again adapted in line with the experiences and recommendations being fed back from both practitioners and beneficiaries, in turn reflecting the specific needs of the different target beneficiary groups. Final translations will then be made into the partner languages enabling the last phase of implementation to take place.

The final phase of the project will be to publish and disseminate the cumulative findings and outputs of the project, including the holding of an international conference in Newcastle and the release of a Final Evaluation and Project Report.

Rickter’s Two Year European Project Completed

Since August 2009 The Rickter Company has been working with organisations from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Slovakia in an ESF Leonardo Lifelong Learning Partnership Project.

This has now come to an end with only the final dissemination of our work still ongoing.

The project – our first within the Leonardo framework – has been a most worthwhile experience. Nan and I got to grips with the sometimes bizarre quirkiness of Euro-speak, e.g. mobilities, informal and non-formal learning, while loving the opportunity to learn so much about the different approaches to working within vocational training in partner countries, and not least enjoying  the wonderful friendships that have been forged over two years of collaboration.

In fact, so successful have we felt this project to have been, that we are keeping our fingers crossed that by September we shall be embarking on a Transfer of Innovation partnership with our colleagues from Germany, Greece and Italy – the innovation being the Rickter Scale® Process, adapted to be language and culture specific to some of their organisations’ specific client groups. On top of that we have also been invited by our Bulgarian partner to work with them on another ESF exchange project.

ASK Website

So it would seem that 2012 might see a lot more transnational cooperation and development for the company and further indulgence in Bulgarian Mavrud wine (Winston Churchill’s favourite red), German Wurst, Greek Meze and Italian Pasta!

For more information about the actual project work that we have been doing on ‘The assessment and validation of informally and non-formally acquired skills in Vocational Education and Training’, please visit the dedicated website:

http://www.lp-ask.org