01 Trans2Work project – description of the project idea, main aim and objectives of the Trans2Work project
The Trans2Work project is designed as complementary with “Equal Access for All -Strengthening the Social Dimension for a Stronger European Higher Education Area” (EquiED) in SR and “Support and Inclusion of SwDs at Higher Education in Montenegro” (SINC@HE) in ME and “Equal Opportunities for Students With Special Needs in Higher Education” (EQOPP) in BiH. The aforementioned projects have been designed to improve the equal access, inclusion and support of prospective and current students with disability (SwD) at HEIs in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Taken into consideration the specific objectives of these 3 projects, the proposed project is a follow up and complementary based on the assumption that SwD often experience limited access to and success within postsecondary and higher education programs which subsequently limits their employment. Thus, Trans2Work links the outcomes from the afore mentioned projects and makes the next step by preparing SwD to meet the needs of the labor market after their graduation.
Although there is a good background and some common good developed strategies there are a lot of differences that are making the mobility among partner countries not easy and in a lot of cases the implementation of those policies are still inefficient and not practically linked. A review on reports and literature focusing on the transition from HE to work life in the 3 partner countries has showed a lack of research data and information. Generally employers are skeptical about the possibility of hiring PwD since their concern relates to the ability of PwD to carry out their employment responsibilities. Important factor for positive change in the attitude of employers is the level of education of PwD.
The consortium of the project consists of 23 partners from EU, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Coordinator of this project is the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki (GREECE).
Aim of the project is to improve the quality and relevance of school to work transition of HE SwD in Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Main objectives are to (a) upgrade and prepare HEIs services to support SwD to their transition from HE to Work following the EU policies, (b) link Higher Education to “disability friendly” work environments, (c) assimilate transition opportunities and skills with EU practices and policies and (d) to prepare employers on understanding the needs of employees with disabilities in order to offer new jobs.
Specific objectives of the project are to:
• Identify and analyze the needs of employers and students with disabilities
• Create a web based tool that will help (a) employers to identify suitable people to fill specific positions and it will be designed to account for special requirements needed by employers and (b) SwD to identify their interests and educational needs
• Create of a portal that will electronically connect employers, individuals with disabilities and the person in each partner country responsible for the development of educational programs for individuals with disabilities
• Inform stakeholders through seminars and workshops, distribution of booklets and/or electronic material regarding the use of the platform and its operation
• Train (a) teaching staff, (b) employers and (b) SwD to manage their career
• Strengthen the role of career centers and establishing the role of mentors
• Raise awareness of employers regarding the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.
• Raise awareness and motivation towards transition and increase the number of HE SwD involved in world of work
02 The innovative character of the project – What are the main innovating elements of the project idea? and Activities planned by project – results and outputs
The project proposal relies on European cooperation and demonstrates strong European added value by bringing together multi-disciplinary excellence from different EU countries. Moreover the project results will have an international impact and will contribute to the improvement of education of students with disabilities while preparing them for their transition to the world of work.
The partnership with EU universities and private entities, competent in lifelong learning, training, inclusive education and organization of students’ services in inclusion and transition domain, will enable the transfer and adaptation of HEIs transition practice to Serbian, Montenegran and Bosnian & Herzegovinian environment.
This project proposal completely addresses regional priorities for JP in Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, concretely the priority “Developing the Higher Education sector within society at large, University-enterprise cooperation, entrepreneurship and employability of graduates”. Furthermore EU policies are focusing under Erasmus+ on linking HE with labor market especially due to the socio-economic situation all over Europe. The political agenda in Europe is focusing on skills and competences that graduate students should have in order to be included in the labor market. This issue is of high priority for social vulnerable group such as IwD that although are being included in HE they face some difficulties after their graduation.
The proposal is based on some good EU practices that have been searched (http://www3.ul.ie/careers/inclusion/) as well as known search engines www.indeed.com. The transfer of knowledge and experience of EU partners on vocational training, education and inclusion of SwD is most important combined also with the idea of special mobility strand for SwD. HEIs will have the chance to get acquainted with Erasmus+ Mobility and respect all guidelines and rules concerning mobility.
03 Present the results of the survey that has taken place during the first period – Transition planning for Higher Education (HE) students with disabilities: the opinions of employers in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro
Within Trans2Work project it was conducted research about needs and requirements of employers, those who already employ SwD and those who do not employ IwD. Research and analysis have several phases:
• Phase of creation questionnaire;
• Phase of distrubution of questionnaiers;
• Collecting datas;
• Creation of Report 1.1: Dev 1.1: Identify and analyze the needs of employers in order to investigate and form the Methodologies for pioneering categorization and analysis of employers’ needs that can be used for further studies, as well as to identify and analyze the needs of employers;
Partly ignorance of people with disabilities about their rights, insufficient training for certain jobs, lack of partnership between civil society and institutions to implement various additional training, finding a job and funding social entrepreneurship are some of the barriers for employment of persons with disabilities. Some of the issues and barriers faced by PwD as people who are looking for job and employers who offer jobs are:
• Employers often have prejudices and negative stereotypical attitudes regarding the employment of PwD;
• Lack of adequate awareness among employers about the needs and possibilities of PwD as employees;
• Inadequate work environment and the architectural and physical unavailability of jobs;
• Inaccessibility of the most web addresses for PwD, because sites that offer jobs are not userfriendly to the point of need;
• Lack of cooperation between employers and NGO that gather PwD in the process of recruitment of future employees;
• Underdeveloped services providing practical training and education in order to acquire the necessary skills for certain types of jobs;
• Understanding of employers that employees must perform several tasks at once, and the fear that PwD will not be able to fulfill this type of request;
• Undeveloped network of support and services for PwD and employers;
• Most of the PwD does not receive support in the process of employment and they are not trained how to efficiently access the necessary information on how to write a CV, how to respond to the requirements of applications for a job;
• Departments and centers for employment does not always understand the needs of employers;
• A small number of submitted applications for the job by PwD meet the strict criteria set by employers.
There is a need to support SwD but also employers who employ or want to hire PwD. To meet their needs, it is necessary to:
• At an early stage of transition provide adequate assistance to SwD who are looking for work in order to overcome existing barriers;
• Ensure the early development of skills and knowledge, as well as the availability of jobs in order to increase employability of SwD;
• Provide that the transition from education to employment is easier and it is not subject to the risks;
• Educate employers on the way to better understand PwD and to better comprehend what it means to recruit PwD;
• Establish a centralized system which will comprehensively displays information of interest to the PwD, employers but also for institutions and centers of employment;
• Services provided in the process of education and the transition should be adapted to individual needs;
04 Present the results of the survey that has taken place during the first period Transition planning for Higher Education (HE) students with disabilities: the opinions of students and employees with disabilities in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro
Within Trans2Work – School-to-Work Transition for Higher Education students with disabilities in Serbia, Bosnia&Herzegovina and Montenergo it was conducted research about needs and requirements of SwD, those SwD who did not start the transition process yet, SwD who are already in the transition process and those who SwD who have completed the transition. Research and analysis have included several phases:
• Creation questionnaire for SwD;
• Distrubution of questionnaiers;
• Collecting datas;
• Analysis of datas;
• Creation of Report Identify Dev 1.1 to identify and analyze the needs of SwD in the transition process from school to work;
On the basis of research, final results were used in creation of Identify and analyze the educational needs of students with disabilities that should help in identification of requirements in the process of transition. In report were in detail presented results from collected datas, and they were shown for every country (Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro. Results of the research were shown issues and barriers faced by persons with disabilities who are in process of finding job, as also employers who are offer working place.
When comparing participants’ (EwD, current SwD, and graduate SwD) views on the most important things an employer could do to facilitate a PwD to do his/her job best the top ranked thing was in all three countries to make certain facilities accessible. The second top ranked thing was in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to purchase or change equipment, while in Serbia participants viewed making work schedule more flexible as more important thing. In all three countries participants viewed assigning part of their job duties to a co-worker the last important thing, which may indicate that EwD, current SwD, and graduate SwD are motivated to be included into the working process and are willing to take their responsibility to perform their assigned work. Moreover, mean values on participants’ views concerning what the universities should do in order to facilitate the transition to employment of SwD based on the results statement were different across countries. For instance, in Serbia and Montenegro, the top ranked thing was raising awareness and sensitivity of the employers towards employees who may have a disability/impairment, while in BiH participants assigned the highest values to educating employers on issues concerning the obstacles a person with disabilities may encounter during their employment. The main objective of these activities should be encouraging dialogue and activation of all participants in the transition. Universities need to expand the area of operation and its role in the formation of SwD who will become successful employees.
Transition from academic education into work is very complicated and challenging process which has huge impact, firstly for students with disabilities and then for universities and employers.
05 Where is our position compared to other countries in the EU from the transition standpoint of SwD
On the basis of conducted research when it comes to the identifying and analysis of requirements and needs of SwD and employers in process of transition SwD from school to work, was created report which focuses on comparative analysis of MNE, SRB and BiH with other EU countries in view of policy and practice PwD in transition from school to work.
It is clear that most of the legislation that is needed to be adopted in partner countries is in line with EU policies. Current legislative should be improved, especially the part that refers to mechanisms that are made to ensure implementation of those laws. There should also be a concrete encouragement by the government for the employers who hire PwD. This encouragement should not only be in terms of some tax benefits but also as a help with practical problems they can face when hiring PwD (like need for special equipment that can enable PwD to perform better on the job etc). On the other hand, it is identified that is need integration between different areas of education to support SwD, to improve better training of professional staff in Higher Education Institutions, as also improved ‘systematic support’ for disabled students – at all stages of the HEI ‘life cycle’ (including pre-entry, whilst studying, and post-qualification).