Tag Archives: Keith

Farewell MobAd!

MobAd Project, Final Meeting _Cyprus 2014

MobAd Project, Final Meeting _Cyprus 2014

Cyprus in July and a heatwave greets us. As we arrive in Nicosia – or Lefcosia as the locals know it –the temperature is already 40° C, and set to rise over the next few days to 45.8°, and that is hot!

Along with our partners from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, we have gathered for the very last meeting of the Grundtvig project ‘Mobility Advising: a way to stimulate motivation for mobility among adult learners’.

After two years of working together on the MobAd project, it is clear that there are a number of ways in which this work can be sustained and further developed.

There is a strong feeling among the partners that mobility is a very important topic and one that could be pursued over a number of EU projects.
The main aim of this current project was to increase the number of learning mobilities undertaken between EU states, first and foremost by providing well trained staff in educational organisations acting as ‘mobility advisors’ to young and adult learners. This is a role without a specific standardised or recognised qualification, and with varying descriptions of what responsibilities it carries. By taking part in international mobility programmes delivered by these specially trained Mobility Advisors, more learners would improve their key competences and skills and thus increase their own employability, and consequently gain improved access to the labour market.

So, while sustainability can be achieved for the MobAd project in the usual way, by exploiting as many ways of disseminating our work as possible, for us that is a given. In addition, we want to take forward our work more formally, by applying for two further projects under the new Erasmus+ Programme.
One of these will be to continue the development of an accredited online course for Mobility Advisors, and the second will be to turn our attention to work we did at the start of the MobAd project in our Survey on the Barriers to Mobility. Our intention is to take this strand of the mobility process and working with young people themselves, investigate in detail how they can be better engaged, informed and motivated to participate in European mobility programmes, not only gaining vital knowledge and skills, but progress in their journey towards employability, specific job readiness, and more generally for opportunity readiness. And of course this would include the introduction of the Rickter Scale Process!

It quickly became evident that there is great variation between the participating countries in how mobilities for young people are perceived outside each country’s borders, the information that is available, the preparation for the mobility itself, the way in which the mobilities are organised and evaluated, and who in fact are the experts in this field. Particularly after completing this project, there is clearly a lot more work to be done.
It is also highly significant that the ‘Special Eurobarometer 417’, coordinated by the European Commission and only published in June 2014, records statistics about poor levels of information about mobility and even poorer figures for actual engagement. This is particularly true of the UK, where European mobilities for young people are hardly promoted at all. Even the word ‘mobilities’ is very rarely heard or understood in the UK!
It is situations like this that continue motivate the MobAd team and in particular the Rickter Company to ensure both the sustainability of the project, and its effective development in the future.

Keith Stead, CEO – The Rickter Company Ltd

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

HPIM1174.JPG

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.

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

Back from Bulgaria

Keith Stead

As part of our work with the European Leonardo Partnership ASK Project, Keith and Nan travelled to Bulgaria for what will be the fourth transnational meeting of the Partnership.

Keith writes following their return:

 

Weather: generally warm and sunny.
Hotels: fine, though with animal skins on the bedroom floor maybe not the first choice of vegans.
Food and drink: incredibly cheap, very tasty, with more than generous portions.

A melting pot of cultures. And lots to see. Wish you could have been with us!

Nan and I returned home from an excellent few days with our European partners on Sunday evening. My case followed 36 hours later. Clearly it wanted to stay too.

Of course we were there to continue sharing good practice in ‘the assessment of informally and non-formally acquired learning of vocational skills’, which is actually becoming more fascinating the more we delve into the subject and the more we hear what is happening in the other countries. If you want to get a flavour of our Leonardo Project, please have a look at www.lp-ask.org

And finally a piece of fascinating trivia:

Question – What was Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite wine? Answer – a Bulgarian red, made from Mavrud grapes. I brought a bottle home, but may have to go back for more!

Next stop Slovakia. Nazdravye!

Rickter hosts Leonardo Partners in Newcastle

We have just hosted an ESF Leonardo Project meeting in Newcastle.

Our European partners came from Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Poland.

Unfortunately the Slovakian delegation were grounded by the volcanic ash cloud.

Leonardo Partners 2010

As well as teaching them a bit of Geordie language, we hit the cultural high spots of Durham Cathedral, an x-rated art exhibition at Belsay Hall in the Northumberland countryside and an Irish pub in the ‘toon’ where we plied them with Guinness and fish and chips.

Oh yes, and we also shared our experiences of the assessment and validation of informally and non-formally acquired learning of vocational skills!

The greatest challenge of course was to come to some agreement as to what all these terms mean.

Fortunately the EU provides us with a weighty glossary of Euro-speak terms and the work was completed.

We can all now talk eloquently about our mobilities, competences, certification of learning outcomes, and the amazingly cheap price of a pint in Bulgaria –all with a Geordie accent of course!