To explain some particularities of this region, such as the multilingual setting (German, Italian and Ladin are official languages) and as an attempt to illustrate our target group, we have decided to introduce two possible cases – let’s call them Lucas and Samira:
Lukas is 20 years old and lives in a small mountain village, about 20 kilometers from the city of Bolzano-Bozen, in the valley of Sarntal. He lives with his father and his father’s partner, whereas his sister lives with his mother.
Three years ago he started to have a great passion: the BMX! Together with friends he used to spend his time on the self-made wooden ramp not far from his house.
Sometimes they went down the village to ride the half pipe in front of the small youth center. Apart from being a great BMX rider, he has also become a DIY bike mechanic, being able to fix them, but also to transform them into stylish objects.
He is worried and confused, doesn´t know what to do next, apart from the fact that he wants to find a way to change his situation.
Although Lukas used to be a happy and positive person, lately things have turned a little difficult in his life. One year ago he left school, after repeating the same year twice at the secondary school for geometry. He started his professional formation to become a graphic designer, however soon realized that he found it difficult to sit in a classroom all day long. So he decided to leave again, hoping that soon he would be able to find work as an apprentice, ideally at a mechanic garage.
Unfortunately, his job search turned out to be unsuccessful. Everyone is asking for work experience, and in the nearby city, Italian and German language skills are required. For Lukas this is a challenge, languages are not his strength. He is worried and confused, doesn’t know what to do next, apart from the fact that he wants to find a way to change his situation. He is tired of not having his own money and to be lost about his future.
One day, however, during a chat with a youth worker from the village, he found out about a local project called “My Future”, Youth Coaching, and decides to give it a go…
Samira lives in a peripheral neighborhood of Bolzano-Bozen. Her parents are of Moroccan origin but she was born in South Tyrol 17 years ago. She looks like most of the girls at her age, latest fashion clothes, skinny jeans, a vintage blouse and cool trainers. In addition, each piece with a personalized touch to it. Her interest in fashion is clear, from top to toe everything is well combined. She likes to spend her time inventing new hairstyles, according to different looks and occasions, and shares this passion with her friends. They spend a lot of time together, usually hanging out at the youth center, where she also met Marco, a boy she is dating since about 6 months.
After middle school Samira wanted to become a professional beautician, something her parents did not accept as serious formation for their daughter. Consequently, she enrolled at the secondary school for economics, on one hand because some of her friends choose this direction, on the other to make her parents happy. However, especially in the main subjects she started to experience difficulties, and the missing support from teachers and parents made her feel left alone. She tried to ignore the problem, increasingly skipping school and meeting up with her boyfriend. When at the end of the year she was told that she had to repeat that year, she decided to leave.
After a big argument with her parents, she started to feel completely alienated from the world around her, with no real support from anyone and anywhere. The only thing she could think of was to find work and to move out of her parent’s house as soon as she reaches the age of 18. She decided to look for a job as shop assistant, hairdresser apprentice, or anything else related to her interests. While spending quite a lot of time in the house, she did not know where to start with her plans and needed support to take the first steps. Her compassionate mother wanted to help, and found the leaflet of “My Future” in the community center. After reading it, she took it with her. And Samira, after some initial doubts, decided to dial the mobile number of the youth workers of “My Future”
In January 2014, in collaboration with n.e.t.z. – the network of Youth Centers in South Tyrol, the section 40 – Educational Fond, and the department for formation and career guidance of the province, have created the Youth Coaching project “My Future” to support young people like Samira and Lukas, as an action against the increasing youth unemployment problem in the area.
Principles, methods and work experience within the context of Open Youth Work and the occupational and educational advice services represent the framework of the Youth Coaching project. For instance, it is essential that young people participate on a voluntary basis and that the youth coaches do not wait for them behind a desk but come out to meet them – be it a youth centre, the public space, or any other informal setting.
The Youth Coaching is offering support for young people between 15 and 25 years, who are likely to leave school or professional training or have already done so, as well as for those who encounter difficulties on entering into employment.
Within a collaborative setting of informal but regular meetings with the youth coach, the strengths, skills and competences of the coached person are elaborated, as well as their weakness looked at. In accordance, targets can be arranged and further steps planed, which let the young person take their own individual steps forwards, towards work or formation.
The professional team of youth coaches supports young people in their search for personal needs and their own wishes and goals. This support can also be very practical – for example offering help in writing a CV or scheduling an interview, accompanying them to a possible work place or meetings with the authorities. On the basis of this individual focus, the project also cooperates with an existing network of professionals, which can give further advice if needed.
We work on the principle of offering help to people to help themselves, as well as providing support and advice within the context of young people’s paths in their social space and lifeworld (Lebenswelt). The Youth Coaching project does not only focus on the “classical” job market, but makes use of the resources of the so called second and third employment market, and tries to create alternative experiences within the job market.
To encourage young people, like Samira and Lukas, to take their own decisions, to make them active protagonists of themselves and of their future, is our main target
by Vera Hochkofler
Anthropologist and network collaborator at n.e.t.z. – Netzwerk der Jugendtreffs und -zentren Südtirols.
With contributions from the Youth Coaching Team: Hanno Raifer (project manager), Stefanie Gapp (coordinator), Stefania Ledonne (youth coach) , Martina Niessen (youth coach), Fabian Reiner (youth coach)
Photos © Vera Hochkofler, Hanno Raifer