Foster access to VET mobility for youngsters with SEN

 

Having an experience abroad is a common dream of many students in Europe. The Erasmus Plus program offers the opportunity to travel around Europe and discover new places and new cultures. Experiences abroad are gratifying and provide young people with skills useful for their future. Students with disabilities would like to have the same opportunities of their peers. Even though the Erasmus Plus program is open to all, students with special needs may find some barriers in accessing to mobility opportunities. A recent report by the European Commission published in 2013 place the number of children with SEN at 15 million. According to the report, children with SEN frequently leave school with few qualifications and are much more likely to become unemployed or economically inactive. Mobility in VET is a key element of lifelong learning systems equipping people with knowledge, know-how, skills and competences required on the labour market. It responds to the needs of the economy but also provides learners with skills for personal development and active citizenship. VET hence is central to employment and social policy. Even if the number of disabled young people participating in mobility programs is slightly growing (source: European Commission, Education and Training), the percentage remains low comparing with the number of non-disabled youngsters. Within its social policy, the EU promotes inclusive education and lifelong learning for students and pupils with disabilities. It is in this framework that our project is slot in. The general objective is to foster the participation to VET mobility opportunities for youngsters with special needs, easing their transition to the labour market and their social integration. Besides this general objective, the project pursues two specific objectives. The first one is to establish or reinforce cooperation among VET providers from other European countries in order to exchange experiences. The second one is to develop local partnerships among learning institutions, businesses and intermediary bodies and raise awareness on topics such as: social inclusion, non-discrimination and equality. Our partnership is composed by organisations from different parts of Europe (Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, Poland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria) with a long experience in VET and in youth mobility projects. Our target group is composed by European youngsters aged 16-20 with special needs still enrolled in educational or training paths. In order to better define our target group, we used the OECD classification of Special Educational Needs (SEN) that distinguishes between three different categories. Our project will focus on the first two categories which are: leaners with disabilities and leaners with difficulties (students with behavioural or emotional disorders, or specific difficulties in learning). Our project participants will be: the project partners’ staff and the target groups. Youth workers will be involved in all project activities, while target groups will be involved only in some ones. Target groups will be selected by each partner among local schools, businesses, job centres, associations and any other relevant institution. These entities will be contacted, interviewed and then invited in local round tables that will be organised by each partner. Throughout the project we will implement the following activities:

1. The analysis carried out by each partner upon the legal framework, methodologies and services existing in every partner country with regards to the inclusion of disabled people in education, training, labour market and social life;

2. The establishment of local networks among public and private entities involved in the integration process of disabled people and the realisation of three round tables in each partner country; 3. The realization of three short-term training events for staff in Madrid, Vicenza and Wroclaw with the aim of exchanging experiences among partners, comparing different inclusion systems and developing ideas and solutions;

4. The production of an e-book which will gather good practices;

5. The implementation of local dissemination events in every partner country.

Through this project we expect to reach the following results and impacts:

1.Established or reinforced cooperation among European organisations through the exchange of experiences;

2.developed local partnerships among learning institutions, businesses and intermediary bodies;

3. raised awareness among local entities and stakeholders on social inclusion, non-discrimination, access to disadvantaged;

4. fostered the access to VET mobility opportunities for youngsters with special needs and eased their transition to the labour market, as well as their social integration.