The Interreg Project, 2009 – 2011
MiA – A variety of qualifications increases companies’ competitive edge
Together with Trondheim Kommune, the Minerva Foundation applied in September 2008 for an Interreg Sweden – Norway project. The programme will run from 2007 to 2013 and aims at improving cross-border contacts between both industry and county authorities to promote mutual development and growth. The project was approved in December and is linked geographically to Gröna Bältet (the Green Belt). It is a cross-region project in that the administrative regions of Dalarna and Sör Tröndelag are joint partners in the project. Mi stands for Minerva and A for Arbeid og Kompetanse (work and competence), the department of the Trondheim local authority with which Minerva is collaborating. MiA can also be interpreted as standing for Mångfald i Arbetslivet (diversity in working life).
The idea of the project is to develop and improve the practices and knowledge already existing both with Minerva and Arbeid og Kompetanse in the sphere of diversity. For many years, Minerva has been involved in the MARIA project, on work with immigrant women seeking jobs in Dalarna. But diversity is much more than mere ethnicity. The Trondheim local authority has developed practices for helping completely alienated and marginalized people into jobs.
Minerva is working on a basic model, which consists of a one-year mentor programme but also includes a number of other elements, such as: networks, practical training, Swedish working life, culture, equal opportunities, coaching – individually and in groups, and much more. Participants are selected in conjunction with the local job centre and the Falun municipal authority.
Participants are required to make a formal, written application and are also called for interview. Thus far, the result has been very good and some 90% of the participants have obtained jobs; the rest have gone on to higher education.
Arbeid og Kompetanse in Trondheim have worked in a similar fashion with their Mentornettverk (mentor network). The difference is that all those, both men and women, who themselves contacted the Mentornettverk and were seeking work were allowed to participate. The groups are open-ended and can admit participants during the course of the programme.
Their efforts have also yielded excellent results. The project is intended to develop the best methods and models for the target group and then disseminate the knowledge derived to job centres and job recruiting agencies both regional and nation-wide and, hopefully, in follow-up projects, to the EU.
But, apart from the Programme running over the three years of the project, the project also includes several other objectives. Spreading information on methods is one important objective but the contacts made between the mentors in Dalarna and Sör Tröndelag are equally important. The mentors will be selected from various companies in the business sphere and from the public sector. Each selection is the result of very thorough matching to achieve the best possible outcome for the project. Since one of the goals of the project is increased development and growth achieved through joint activities, meetings in business clusters form a significant element.
The mentors will act as “ambassadors” both regarding growth through diversity and in direct contact with companies. The project will be followed in detail by research students at Trondheim University. Continuous assessment of the process will be presented to the Interreg secretariat and in our News Letters. Professor Lars Holmbo of Roskilde/Århus University in Denmark, who has done some research on mentorship, will also follow its progress and make a contribution of experience and expert knowledge to the project.
A preliminary “kick off”, arranged by the Jämtland County Administration in Östersund, took place in Åre on 3 February. All the projects included in Gröna Bältet were presented there.
The mentor programme for job-seeking immigrant women in Dalarna has already commenced selection of participants and will run until April 2010, when preparations for Programme Number 2 in Dalarna will start. At the same time, Trondheim has started selecting and recruiting mentors for its Mentornettverk.
The MiA project managers have met up both in Falun and in Trondheim and their next meeting will take place on 17-18 March in Falun to mark the official start of the project with all the project managers assembled. A press conference with the media will take place in Minerva´s premises at Kyrkobacksvägen 8 in Falun.A number of seminars and conferences will be staged both in Dalarna and in Trondheim. Representatives from various county authorities will be invited to attend and both mentors and participants in the mentor programme will play an important part.