Project goal
The aim of the project "Passport for Employability" was to create an innovating methodology (training plan for employment and employability) to be replicated in all Europe and that means an increase in the number of inmates that are reintegrated on the labor market and do not repeat the offense.
The project was developed for the cooperative, Aproximar, during my PhD research in Design (University of Lisbon). This project was co-founded by the European Union (Erasmus+).
Project duration:
February to July 2018.
My role
● Led the design and implementation of an educational program supported by multiple design tools to
enhance the employability of inmates.
● Created, tested, and deployed the design toolkit focusing on the development of soft-skills, selfconfidence, and self-knowledge of inmates.
Through a bibliographical review and interviews with people serving time in prison or in the community, some more relevant points were raised for an adequate social reintegration. Among the issues raised, it was decided to work mainly on 3 of these: helping to develop skills for employability and providing knowledge about existing community resources to support people who have just served their sentences, such as housing, food and other types of support. ​​​​​​​
Planning and design
From the identification of the issues to be worked on, it was proposed that the program would be divided into modules that contemplate the objectives of the program, namely: Module 1, Empowerment for employability, aiming at self-knowledge, stimulating inmates' self-esteem and creativity, assisting in recognition of their skills, competences and understand the difficulties and opportunities they may face when they are free; Module 2, Journey to employability, with a more practical focus, on how to look for a job, how to develop a resume, a letter of motivation and how a job interview behaves; and Module 3, Preparing for departure, revealing what community resources are available to help them, how to use them and also how to plan for the exit and return to society phase.
Within these three modules, 20 tools were created or adapted to compose the kit. For example: “Who
represents me?” To know a little about the prisoners in the first section, creating a more favorable environment for communication, are badges containing each image of a different animal. The proposal is that each of the prisoners choose the badge with the image of the animal and explain the reason for the choice; “Expectatives & Fears”, another activity created, aims to question inmates about what they expect from the job market, reactions from employers and what fears they have when looking for a job,  as well as leaving the prison; “How to make a CV”, an explanatory activity, aims to teach them stepby- step how to make their CV, suggest digital tools they can use; “How to behave in a job interview”, structured through a technique, Role-playing; “Touchpoints”, to identify what each of them can do in different moments before or after leaving the prison to facilitate their social reintegration.
After planning, the eight sessions were held, which were provided by the cooperative manager and
the designer. Throughout the eight sessions, voluntary and regular participation was obtained
from 12 prisoners, who were at the end of their sentences in prison, so that they would be released from prison within less than two years. Regarding ages, 8 of them were between 25 and 35 years old, and another four were between 40 and 65 years old. The sessions were attended by 8 to 12 of them.The kit's tools have already been tested with inmates of a Portuguese Prison in 2018 and should be used in other Prisons.
The process of implementing took place over eight sessions at the prison in Sintra (Portugal), between June and July 2018.
The project was very well evaluated by the participants, who responded to a questionnaire. In general, the answers to "regarding what I expected",  "learning objectives and results" and "practical application of the contents" were rated very good or excellent. The evaluations were also made considering the observation of the trainers during the sessions and attendance, since they were voluntary participations, participation varied between 8 and 12 participants per session. The participants were very interested and engaged in their activities. During break times, they took the opportunity to share their experiences regarding employability.
This training programme, entitled “Passport for Employability” was awarded in the 5th edition of the Solidarity Award, promoted by BPI and the “la Caixa” Foundation. The Solidarity Prize aims to support projects that promote the transition and reintegration into the active life of young people and adults in situations of social vulnerability, as well as the promotion of their basic needs.
Images © 2021 Aproximar Cooperativa de Solidariedade Social - CRL & Caio Miolo, all rights reserved.
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