Network F Supporting the adaptability of firms and employees to structural economic changes and the use of information technology and other new technologies.
Project name Mentoring through IT
Project number F0238

Project description

The principal aim of the Partnership is to develop an effective model for the transfer of knowledge by the use of information and communication technologies. During a preliminary analysis done by the Partnership institutions, two groups of people who are experiencing discrimination on the job market for various reasons were identified. The first group are the young and the educated, who possess the ability to use modern technological tools, and are taking their first steps on the job market. The difficulties these people experience originate from the fact that employers are unwilling to hire individuals with no previous work experience. This approach greatly limits the chances for career advancement, even in the case of the most well-educated university graduates. In theory, internships geared towards students should constitute the solution to this difficult problem, but due to the fact that they are generally carried out without a clear plan, and usually bear no relevance to later professional work, employers do not take them into account when selecting new employees.

The second target group identified by the Partnership institutions are individuals over the age of 50, who possess many years of professional experience, as well as broad and specialized knowledge in their area of work, but are unable to use modern communication and information technology tools. It is difficult for older employees to stay up to date as far as modern information and communication technology is concerned. This makes them uncompetitive on the job market in relation to people who are younger. Companies are unable to truly make use of the potential and experience of those employees who are nearing retirement. It often happens that following the retirement, dismissal or resignation of an older employee, the company experiences a "competence vacuum" which the younger and inexperienced workers are not able to fill. This can negatively impact the functioning of the entire organization.

While the number of "traditional" jobs available in industry is constantly decreasing, the service sector is experiencing significant growth, mostly in areas such as business to business services, healthcare, social services, education and information technology - all of which require their employees to be skilled in using modern information technology and communication solutions. The initiators of the project were able to see that the two target groups complement each other, since the strengths represented by one group can effectively help eliminate the weaknesses experienced by the other. By making up for the lack of professional experience among young people, and for the lack of experience in using information and communication technology among people aged 50 and over, the exchange of knowledge between these two groups is a way to combat the effects of discrimination on the job market.

This transfer of knowledge will take place as part of a new mentorship-focused pilot programme. In it, older employees will share their professional knowledge and experience with younger workers by using traditional methods and modern information and communication technology. The mentorship process has been modified to suit the lack of experience of older workers in the area of information and communication technology. During the first stage of the process, the younger employee trains the older employee in how to use the new technology, and only then can the process be reversed, so the mentor can pass on his or her knowledge to the younger employee. There is a need to create specialised software which will enable communication between two individuals belonging to two different age groups, possessing different professional skills and knowledge, and at times differing in terms of personality as well as cognitive ability. In the pilot phase of the project, the number of beneficiaries will be 150. An attempt will be made to collect as much information as possible about these participants. The data will then be used for the creation of logical matrices, taking into account personality traits, given the optimal selection and pairing of individuals from the two age groups for the mentorship programme. Compatibility in terms of personality is an important factor since the effectiveness of the mentorship method developed depends on how well the project participants are able to work together. Based on observations and analyses conducted on the group of 150 individuals, 30 beneficiaries will be chosen - 15 from each of the two disadvantaged groups - for the final phase of the project. The software package will be created in cooperation with this group of 30 participants and will consist of three modules - focused, respectively, on: recruitment, education and mentoring - addressing specific problems which are encountered within companies. The software will make it possible to select new staff, taking character traits into account. This in turn will aid in the creation of integrated and effective work teams, as well as in the free flow of knowledge between the older and younger workers. As the result, these workers will become more valuable on the job market. Both the younger and the older workers will benefit. The latter will gain skills in the area of modern information technology, while the former will be given an opportunity to supplement their theoretical knowledge with practical skills and experience. The strength of this universal mentoring tool lies in the fact that it can be applied to various occupations within the service sector. Professionals working in architecture, engineering, urban planning, geodetic surveying, banking or consulting can benefit; in other words, those working in any area where the transfer of knowledge plays a crucial role. Through its implementation, the project is going to be an illustration of why it is important to create multigenerational work teams, whose members have competencies that complement each other, leading to flexibility in adjusting to new demands and in taking advantage of new opportunities appearing on the market.

It will be possible to assess the full results of the project once this particular knowledge transfer model has been adopted by various companies from different sectors of the market. For this reason, publicity will play a highly important role. It will be targeted mainly towards employers, but also the beneficiaries themselves, in addition to organizations focused on combating unemployment, as well as local government and public administration officials. Publicity related to the project and the implementation of project results will aid in improving the situation of two major groups of people, experiencing discrimination on the job market.