It’s called Duo for a Job and it’s an intergenerational and intercultural tutoring offering young migrants looking for an employment a free and personalised 6 months training, offered by people who are over 50 with experience in the same sector.
Duo for a Job is one of the five winners of the European Economic and Social Committee Civil Society Prize, that was awarded in Brussels, on 7 December, and that aims to reward “the excellence in the initiatives of the civil society”.
This year the award has been dedicated to innovative projects to promote employment and quality entrepreneurship for the future of work. The theme of the competition changes every year. The 2016 edition was dedicated to civil society organisations working to improve refugees and migrants’ lives.
We have met Emmanuelle Ghislain, Marketing, Communication and Fundraising Coordinator at Duo for a Job.
- What does Duo for a Job do?
We put in contact youth with an immigrant background arriving in Belgium and looking for a job but who don’t find it easily for obvious reasons with people who are more than 50 years old who help them find a job. It is a 6 months path during which they see each other two or three hours a week and during which they work together on a professional career.
- Where is Duo for a Job based? When was it founded?
Duo for a Job has offices in Liège, Antwerp and Brussels and was founded 4 years ago.
- What kind of people are the youth who participate to the programme?
They are youth who have a very specific idea of what they want to do but they don’t know exactly how to find a job.
- The programme is a means to make two generations, that usually don’t speak to each other, meet...
Yes, it is a way to make two cultures, two generations that usually don’t speak to each other, meet. They don’t have platforms made to meet each other, therefore Duo for a Job is a concrete reason to make them meet.
- Does the project work?
We started 4 years ago, we adapted the project to 950 duo (couples of youth and people over 50). 53% of youth finds a job by 12 months, and it is a double number as compared to the normal rate. If they don’t follow this path they have two times less the likelihood to find a job. At present we have 512 mentors, people who help everyday these youth. Now we want to grow in other cities in Belgium like Ghent and then go abroad. First we would like to go to France and then we will maybe have the chance to go in the following years to northern Italy. We have already been contacted by the Compagnia San Paolo, the foundation of the bank, that has proposed to help us when we are ready.
- What are your challenges?
First of all money because being a non profit organisation we have to look every day for more money to be sustainable. Secondly, the management of the growth. We have been lucky because we have made the double of duo (couples of youth and people over 50) every year, therefore we have expanded a lot in 4 years. We started as volunteers and now we are 27 people who work there, therefore we have grown a lot!
- How was the idea of Duo for a Job born?
From two friends, both from Brussels, one was working for Médecins sans Frontières and the Red Cross: he was around a lot and he had decided to go back to Brussels to do something in his country. The other friend was working in a human resources department of a big company in Belgium and he saw the problems of youth to enter the job market, as well as the problems of people aged more than 50 who due to reorganisations lose their job and don’t have self-confidence. They have helped us with Duo for a Job. It makes sense to have organised this project in Brussels because Brussels is the city in the world where there are, after Dubai, more different nationalities. It is a multicultural city, where 7 people out of 10 are foreigners.
- How did you receive the first money?
Thanks to the mechanism of the social impact bond. It was the first in continental Europe. It gave us the financial impulse to go further. It gave us also the attention of other people who wanted to invest or to help with an impact, that was very tangible.
- How did you receive the news that you have won the prize?
We are very happy, we didn’t expect it. For us it is first of all the opportunity to meet other actors of the sector, who work differently from us and we can for sure find sinergies. On the other hand it is an opportunity to meet politicians who decide now of the future of Europe.It’s a good thing that all the efforts of civil society are reconìgnised for what they do, for projects that work and they work because they have demonstrated results. Furthermore for the purposes of growth and of the opening of our project in other cities, it makes sense to have these points of contact and these connections with other projects.
Photo: Duo for a Job's Facebook page.