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Nikolina Garača is a psychologist and social service worker currently working in the Balkans. Photo: Borislav Brezo.

Learning & teaching

HOPE project: Identifying skills gained in life

Authors: Goran Jordanoski Published:

Nikolina Garača is a psychologist and social service worker currently working in the Balkans. Photo: Borislav Brezo.

Nikolina Garača, social service worker based in the Balkans, answers three quick questions on the project “Helping women gain power in their lives” (HOPE). The project’s aim is to help women to identify their competences gained in informal environments, be it in family or through coping with challenges in their life.

1. What is the objective of the HOPE project?

The goal is to reduce the poverty and social exclusion of women, which is a central concern of the European Commission and the United Nations. The project seeks to guide women with fewer opportunities in Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia towards securing employment, education or training, and successfully (re-)integrating into social and economic systems.

The background for this is that women are more exposed to situations that put them at risk of poverty due to, for example, interrupted employment or part-time work coupled with childcare, and low independent income.

The situation has been further worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which accentuated traditional gender roles, and its consequences such as increased unemployment among women and pay inequity between women and men.

The project is being implemented by the German Institute for Adult Education (DIE) with partners from Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.

2. How to achieve the objective? What are the outcomes so far?

The main targets of HOPE are counsellors working with women with fewer opportunities. The counsellors are being trained and given tools for identifying the competences. The women are being offered high-quality counselling, competence assessment and career guidance.

All project materials, such as the target group-specific ProfilPASS for women at risk of poverty, HOPE-Toolkit, manual and curriculum, are in open access and free for download on the project webpage. The most important output is the new tool for competence assessment and empowerment, “ProfilPASS for Women – We can do it!”.

3. From theory to practice: How is the counselling organised?

In 2023, more than 30 counsellors are being trained to use the project materials in their work with women. The counsellors come from HOPE partner organisations in Germany, Slovenia, Serbia, and North Macedonia.

Then, during the testing phase, 120 women with fewer opportunities from these four countries will have their competences assessed through counselling with the tool “ProfilPASS for Women – We can do it!”.

The counselling itself entails individual meetings and group sessions where women are able to network and receive support from their peers. This brings them one step closer to securing a job, further education or a training opportunity.

European project HOPE – Helping women gain power in their lives

The aim of the EU-funded project HOPE is to support counselling work and the identification of the competences of women to strengthen their (re-)integration into the labour market in the Balkan countries. For this, an expert team is creating a new version of the ProfilPASS, a tool for competence assessment and empowerment, gearing it towards the needs of women with fewer opportunities.

ProfilPASS is a biographic-systematic instrument for competence assessment and empowerment, which has existed in Germany since 2006 and in the Balkan countries since 2013. It is based on the fact that people learn mostly in informal environments like family, volunteering and through coping with challenges in their lives, and not only through the formal education system.

Nikolina Garača

  • (BA Psychology, Social Service Worker) is a ProfilPASS counsellor currently working in the Balkans
  • is dedicated to empowering others and contributing to the development of counsellors in the region
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Goran Jordanoski (Master of Adult Education /Lifelong Learning) works as a research associate at the German Institute for Adult Education’s Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE). Since 2017, he has been coordinating various European projects around the further development of the ProfilPASS. Email: Show all articles by Goran Jordanoski
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