02 SES 02 A, Inclusion of Disadvantaged Individuals
This paper presents part of a Spanish national research Project on “Educational, accompanying, qualification and developmental processes in work integration companies: innovating social inclusion through employment” (EDU2013-45919-R) as well as of a Erasmus+ project entitled “Jobcoach+” (2015-1-BE01-KA202-013226). In both projects, we have worked with trainers in Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs), who have the role of professional preparation as well as social accompaniment of workers in order to facilitate their entry into the ordinary labor market.
Our aim is to describe the accompanying practices that take place on-the-job as well as their effects upon processes of personal and occupational development as well as vocational qualification that they have upon their employees in their transition into jobs in the ordinary labor market. Hence, our research focuses on three axis: companies as organizations, trainers and trainees. These companies promote social inclusion for people who have suffered marginalization in their lives, and to equip them with an occupational training and experience that will help them improve their employability. They provide an opportunity for certain groups of people and they facilitate training in a working context, therefore trying to improve their transition into the ordinary labor market, facilitating working and social inclusion (Ros-Garrido & Brabo, 2013).
We approach WISEs as a research context due to their explicit educational and training aim, as important as productivity and competitiveness. In our research, we have studied the features of the people in charge of qualification and accompanying processes as well as on the relations they establish and the strategies they use.
Our research approach is based upon Eraut’s notion of learning trajectories (Eraut, 2009; Eraut & Hirsh, 2007; Eraut et al., 2004, Eraut et al., 2005). We have elsewhere argued why this choice (Chisvert-Tarazona, Marhuenda-Fluixá, Ros-Garrido, Abiétar-López, Palomares-Montero & Belver, 2017) and how we want to elicit the tacit knowledge of the professionals. We have adapted this approach for our purposes (Marhuenda, 2017), and we are now able to give an account on three dimensions: working processes with learning as a collateral effect, intentional learning processes and, thirdly, learning activities embedded in other processes.
We give an account of the process and results of the work conducted by one trainer in a WISE, in order to describe and analyze teaching and learning processes happening there. We will do by focusing on the trainer procedures, criteria and tools, the leadership she takes on these processes as well as the coordination she establishes with other staff in the company and in services out of the company with which the trainees have to deal, like Social Services, Adult Education providers, Health Services and others. Through all of these, we attempt to answer our research question about how are training and learning processes designed and implemented in a company changing its organizational culture into that of a WISE along its first two years.
Our research consists of a case study entailing a company that we have visited along two and a half years (March 2016, September and October 2016, June and July 2017), conducting observation of full working days of all integration workers along time, interviewing (in a semi-structured way) them after observation and interviewing also their trainer every time we attended the companies. Our research is therefore not only qualitative but also longitudinal, and the sources we have used are not only observation and interviewing but also documents analysis. For this purpose, we produced a grid to give an account of every visit, including all sources of information and facilitating a coding system of learning contents as well as learning processes. We completed one such grid for each worker after every visit, and we reported on the company’s trainer in the period between visits, to validate our reports and to get her feedback. The grid was not only useful to handle data and to reduce and analyze data gathered, but also to provide a first account of interpretation. The choice of the company was done according to the following criteria: It had just been approved by the Official Registry of WISEs in February 2016; all their trainees were novice workers; all of them were middle-aged women with previous non-formal work experience and with low educational level and no qualification; the company works in the recycling domain as many other WISEs in Spain (and as other five companies in our research project, which could allow for contrast of our findings). We have been able to follow the progress of learning of these women as well as the obstacles and limits in their processes of social inclusion. We have seen the trainer behave before different situations and how she has supported the learning and inclusion processes of these women along time. The data we have obtained in our research show the complexities of the transition from the informal culture of an organization with experienced workers into the formal requirements of a WISE that demand an adaptation of training processes (Aeress and Faedei, 2014). We have analyzed the implementation of standard procedures and we are assessing the impact of these upon the expected results in terms of personal and professional development of integration workers.
Working in teams is the main process and result by which trainees learn. They learn soon whom to ask and where to find support. Teams are linked to the three locations of the company (warehouse, second-hand shops and delivery trucks). However, rotation of workers along the different locations and teams is a common though not frequent practice, caused by production needs but also to provide new learning opportunities to trainees. The trainer’s background as graduate in environmental engineering and master in local development and professional experience in teaching young adults, as well as good knowledge of management techniques, is relevant. She gets trainees involved in in-company activities. She coordinates with the manager not without confrontation. We can then confirm, following Marhuenda and Bonavía (2011) that the key to these processes does not rely upon work performance but rather upon personal development as well as working in groups. We have also seen that the focus has displaced from personal development in the initial phases into working in teams at later stages, fostering the learning of social and labor relations and contributing to staff development within the company. In the paper, we identify several training strategies that she uses in different moments along the trainee’s process. We have been able to identify several strategies out of the principles and guidance provided by the handbook on accompanyiment (Aeress and Faedei, 2014). These strategies shape a non-linear process, even if sequenced and planned, while embedding moves forward and backwards of the employed women. Participation and autonomy are encouraged by the jobcoach and respect and equality is relevant in labor relations. Each woman has her own individualized learning plan and that is a tool also contributing to the improvement of jobcoaching practices.
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