The UNIWORK Kick-off event was held at the University of Alicante (UA) on March 17th 2014, in combination with the Study Visit to the University of Alicante’s Career Centre, Gabinete de Iniciativas Para el Empleo – GIPE, on March 18th 2014.
The UNIWORK partners were welcomed to the UA by Vice Rector Juan Llopis and by Alexandra Mayr, the Deputy Director of the International Project Management Office (OGPI).
During the Kick-off Meeting each of the Partners gave a short presentation on their institution, while the rest of the Meeting was dedicated to an overview of the UNIWORK project (general project presentation and objectives) and its management (Workflow, Project Management Board, Quality Board, Financial management, Project Intranet), as well as a more detailed look at the different work packages:
- WP1 - Generating a knowledge base and identifying good practices (methodology and update)
- WP2 - Capacity building (training plans and materials, language skills, training of trainers, practical placements)
- WP3 - Strengthening organisational capacities of career centres (modernisation action plans, technical capacities and databases)
- WP4 - Networking actions for active stakeholder inclusion (working groups, business brunches, alumni networks, national and regional for, policy white papers)
During the Study Visit, the participants were welcomed to the GIPE by Victor Climent, Senior Manager, who gave them a general presentation on the objectives and organization and structure of the GIPE. He also detailed specific processes used for employment, training attachments, entrepreneurship and career advice. Details were also provided on the selection process and training of staff who work in the GIPE.
Throughout the visit and presentation, Victor pointed out the need of distinguishing between the concepts of employment and employability. Such distinctions must be taken into account when a university career service designs and puts its employment programs into practice.
· Employment programs refer to the idea of helping graduates or students to find a job in the universities’ area of influence. This concept fits in with the pre-European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and pre-globalized context: opportunities in the near context.
· Employability programs refer to the idea of helping students to find a job anywhere they go. This concept fits in with the EHEA and globalized context: opportunities of the graduates.
At this point there was a discussion among partners concerning the question of whether or not the career service programs are useful to increase the number of job opportunities within the local’s university’s area of influence. Victor took the opportunity to insist upon the point of analysis within the new European and globalized context. That context suggests the need to:
· On the one hand, enlarge the labor market context from local university’s area of influence where - depending on the country - graduates can find more or less opportunities, to a non-limited context (wider area) that gives the graduates more opportunities of professional achievements and,
· On the other hand, boost the entrepreneurial culture to transfer technology and knowledge from the University to society by creating business activities and job opportunities in the near context.
The partners also showed great interest in the internship program. Internship programs have proven their worth in the transition from education to employment. The Career Service of the University of Alicante has 20 years experience in such programs, so the partners were able to appreciate the evolution of these programs according to the changing circumstances that have been taking place at universities and their economic and educational contexts.