Now that the Euler project has come to a close, time to share what we have learned. Our aim from the start was to unlock and deepen the skill-set of those disconnected from the labour market. This involves geographical exploration as well as building social relationships. A number of actions that others can also use when working in deprived areas emerged from the different routes the project traveled. Some are just for inspiration, others are practical instruments that can be downloaded. Together make up a toolkit for harnessing the skills that are applied and developed in community action.
The toolkit contains 3 elements:
- A strategy for starting to work in deprived neighbourhoods
- A method for recognizing and naming skills
- An open educational resource [OER] with curriculum and sessions ready to re-apply.
The strategy consists of a critical path that can be followed by the community organiser/intervenor/educator. Illustrated below.
The Euler methodology is a collective approach. Participants are not followed individually, but rather as a community they work together. This raises the preliminary question: how to bring a community together? The consortium noted that a local area confronted with imminent redevelopment, is often already coming together. E.g the threat of an new high speed rail development in Somers Town, is an example of how external threat can bring communities together. If there is an issue, the community organiser can build on this group and strengthen what is already there.
If there is no issue, the community organiser has more benefit training local people in the use of the method, if not the project will come across as rather foreign to the neighbourhood. The trainers are thought to identify the need of the local community, “which change would they like to see”. After that, the skills and competences required to make this change happen can be identified.
In both cases, the biggest contribution a community organizer can make is provide physical and mental space in which the existing knowledge and skills can be shared and deepened.
Should the community reach its limits in terms of availability in the local community, an ad hoc expert can be sought externally, to provide the necessary input.
The Euler Consortium developed a set of 5 questions that can help communities check if they applied the Strategy in a satisfactory manner.
- General description of the chosen area [demography, history, context,…
- How have you chosen your local area? What makes this area potentially interesting?
- How will you contact and involve people to work with?
- What is the project you want to involve them in
- “Experience has taught that many organisations find it hard to start working in a deprived urban area. VET-organisations, government as well as private actors find it hard to reach into communities that are further removed from the mainstream economy. The Strategy provides them with a first step towards involving citizens on the basis of what they are interested in, not because of charity or a decree from above.” How does your work support the claim made here? How will your work reach citizens different from those in traditional training programmes?
Answers from London, Berlin, Antwerp and Barcelona
Our objective is to understand the skills and competences participants can obtain or improve by being involved in “urban actions”. To be useful in other contexts, these skills should be first identified and then validated and or certified. We are particularly interested in skills that will be relevant in the future economy.
For identifying skills and competences, we build on the work that has already been done by different agencies of the European Union. This has the additional benefit of facilitating dialogue with other public and private agencies involved with training and employment about our results.
During activities relating to the “urban action”, participants learn from each other, and where necessary experts are called in to teach or train the missing skills. As such, learning takes place in an intentional and planned way (referred to as “non-formal learning” or “semi-structured learning”), but also unorganized and unstructured (“referred to as incidental learning” or “informal” learning). Acquired skills and competences are very dependent upon the path the “urban actions” takes.
Because of this path dependency, it is very difficult to define learning objectives before the start of the project. Learning and acquired skills and competences are better assessed at intervals and at the end as outcomes. Again it seems advisable to use existing methods of naming, in order to make exchange with other agencies possible.
To standardize the identification and naming of skills, the project partners have developed a framework. The framework was first applied to a number of previous projects, in order to test its relevance and improve it. In a second stage the framework will be tested during projects developed with the concept of developing skills and competences already in mind.
The framework divides skills into 3 main categories: social, creative and technical skills. This distinction stems from observations made by Brynjolfsson and McAfee (2014), about the future potential of these skills. According to their research, these are skills best shielded from the threat of automation, and thus with a large future potential.
For each category, a non-exhaustive list of task relating to that skill is provided:
0 hosting and hospitality
0 promotion and communication
0 public speaking
0 meeting facilitating and moderating
0 mediating and conflict management
0 leading and coordinating
0 imagining and conceptualizing
0 problem solving
0 perseverance and resilience
0 (re-)combing ideas
0 fine handiwork
0 using fine tools
0 using power tools
0 specialized technical skills
0 science, technology, engineering, mathematics
0 management (of budget or other resources)
To assess the level of these skills, the European Qualifications Framework  was used:
Basic skills required to carry out simple tasks
Basic cognitive and practical skills required to use relevant information in order to carry out tasks and to solve routine problems using simple rules and tools
A range of cognitive and practical skills required to accomplish tasks and solve problems by selecting and applying basic methods, tools, materials and information
A range of cognitive and practical skills required to generate solutions to specific problems in a field of work or study
A comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems
Advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialised field of work or study
Specialised problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields
The most advanced and specialised skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice
Completed grids can be found here:
 Terminology of EU Education and Training Policy http://public.citymined.org/RelevantPapers/TerminologyOfEUEducationAndTrainingPolicy.pdf
 The Second Machine Age
Open Educational resource
In a number of sessions these skills were deepened and made more useful for the labour market. It makes sessions, as well as the curriculum with the aims, different units as well as learning outcomes available. Most importantly, it allows to bridge the gap between informal and non-formal learning and the labour market. With these resources at hand, a participant is in a better position to convince a potential employer of what he/she has learned.
The OER is available here
The toolkit was applied in different neighbourhood. You can find a description of applications here:
The approach was critically assessed during a conference in berlin, of which you can find results here