In the framework of the EU VET Skills week, the partners of the B-WISE project organised a webinar on “Skills needs and skills gaps in WISEs” on May, 18th. The webinar started by a presentation of the project by Nóra Gyorke from EASPD, who also moderated the whole webinar, her intervention was followed by a presentation of the first results from the project by Giulia Tallarini and Andrea Signoretti from EURICSE and Angela Achitei, from ADV Fundation, who presented a good practice Utildeco.
Nóra Gyorke, from EASPD, project coordinator, reminded the participants that work integration social enterprises, WISEs, are a subset of the social economy and work for the integration of people with support needs. They are particularly affected by the digital transition as they often lack the knowledge and the tools, even though some WISEs are pioneers.
Giulia Tallarini and Andrea Signoretti, from EURICSE, the partner in charge of the Report on WISEs in Europe, explained that some people have difficulties to enter the labor market in the EU, in particular people with support needs. WISEs are a solution to create more balanced and fair labour markets as they have two aspects, to encourage employment and lead social actions. After a general presentation of the trends they found in the organisation form of WISEs in Europe, the speakers focused on skills, indeed, the B-WISE project aimed to map skills needed to perform jobs and fill the skills gaps in the WISEs sector. They underlined that the results differ depending on the type of WISEs workers : enablers, supporters and people with support needs.
For enablers, the most important skill they need are management and networking skills. Even though some skills depend on the age of the organisation.
The supporters need a mix of hard and soft skills and the most important for them is to assist and care but they also need managerial skills as well as languages skills, for a lot of them, the latter is the most important skill. Operational skills and practical work is less relevant for them. The most of all need to have communication skills.
For workers with support needs, the most important skills are those that allow for the carrying out of work autonomously and help meet objectives and deadlines. Operational skills related to handling and moving, and to working machinery and specialized equipment along with collaborative skills are the most importantnt.
Overall there are some skills gaps, they are not dramatic, but there is space for improvement. However, skills gaps can be dangerous as they reduce the social mission capacity for the WISEs to support workers with support needs. To overcome those skills gaps, trainings are necessary or, there are no suitable training opportunities for WISEs workers due to the lack of economic resources and the lack of time. Training is considered as ineffective according to EURICSE survey. Some solutions need to be found to encourage the development of WISEs.
Angela Achitei, director of ADV Fundation, presented her organisation and explained that they created a WISE, UtilDeco, without really knowing what it was, it is now the largest WISE in Romania even though they do not receive any support from the Romanian government. Romania has a low rate of employment of people with disabilities, UtilDeco helps persons with disabilities to be successful employees. Since its creation, more than one hundred persons worked within Utildeco or were placed on the labour market. People are working in this WISE as their first job and participate to the production of goods and services such as textile work, archiving and storing documents, production and advertising materials, occupational safety and health services, freshly roaster premium coffee. The whole profit is reinvested in the WISE.
The persons employed are persons with disabilities and receive assistance such as job coaching, psychological support during 3 to 12 months. The biggest challenge for workers is not to find a job but to keep it.
To conclude, she insisted that socially responsible public procurement is not well spread in Romania and that ADV and RISE Romania are advocating to put an obligation of 0,5% to be used for WISEs, reserved market. This proposal has some positive answers, and they hope that it will be developed.