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including hands-on report and interview with Julie Bodson, deputy director at DUO for a JOB

Belgium: DUO for a JOB

Enhancing opportunities for both young people with migrant background and experienced people over the age of fifty

Starting position/challenge

DUO for a JOB was born from a double observation:

  • there is a proven inequality of access to the labour market for young people with a migrant background in Belgium.
  • people over 50 years of age in Belgium have one of the lowest employment rates in Europe and face a lack of appreciation of their skills.

DUO for a JOB organises intergenerational and intercultural mentoring to facilitate access to employment of the youngest jobseekers through revalorising the experience of seniors. In concrete terms, it is a relationship through which an experienced person, “the mentor”, shares her/his knowledge and experience with a young person, “the mentee”, in order to promote the development of their skills and autonomy, and to enable them to identify and achieve professional objectives. This relationship (“the duo”) is based on exchange, learning and permanent and reciprocal trust. The young person and her/his mentor meet once a week for two hours during a period of maximum six months.
DUO for a JOB seeks to eliminate inequalities that young job-seekers with a migration background experience in the access to the labour market. The Belgian mentoring programme recognises the knowledge of elderlies and combats discrimination by recreating social cohesion, understanding and local solidarity.

Implementation

The buddy-model created by DUO for a JOB is innovative for three main reasons. Firstly, mentors have an in-depth knowledge of a particular sector and can therefore transfer their experience and the codes of this sector to their mentees. Secondly, the duos meet on a weekly basis, thanks to the free time that mentors can devote to their mentees, which makes the programme quite intense. Finally, mentors work with only one mentee at a time which makes the experience really individual and unique. It allows building a relationship of trust and to work intensively on the mentees’ job search and sometimes on their social difficulties.

Since the start in 2013, DUO for a JOB has created more than 2600 duos in five cities in Belgium: Brussels, Liège, Antwerp, Ghent and Mechelen. The association is about 1000 mentors strong and has helped more than 1800 young people to find a job, an internship or a training programme (71% of positive outcomes). More than one mentee out of two (53%) finds a job within the 12 months that follow the mentoring period. As shown by the evaluation carried out at the end of the programme, mentees also end the mentoring period with more self-confidence as well as the ability to create a career plan and to use job-seeking tools. They improve their language skills, their capacity to develop a professional and social network, etc. As for the mentors, they also report positive outcomes, as mentoring makes them feel useful while keeping them active. They enjoy sharing their knowledge and skills, and they have the opportunity to learn from young people as well as to discover their cultures. All these reasons explain why 9 out of 10 mentors decide to start a new duo after their first experience.

Target Group:

labour market institutions, educational institutions

DUO for a JOB in a nutshell:

DUO for a JOB matches young immigrant jobseekers with people over 50 years, ideally stemming from the same sector, who can accompany and support them in their social and professional inclusion.

Creator of the model:

Frédéric Simonart, Matthieu Le Grelle, Brussels, duoforajob.org