Our European project SYMPATIC is focusing not only on the mentoring process in companies but also on the role of the job coach in order to guide and facilitate professional integration of young people.
The job coach has even more a key role to play these coming years in regards with the current international pandemic and the changes that our societies are faced with.
Job coaching and emerging professions: adapting to the health crisis
Faced with the new challenges related to the pandemic that we have been going through for a year now, the labour market seems to be adapting to the new dynamics of the crisis with increasing demand in the medical and social environment. The job coach, a key person in advising and accompanying young people in their professional integration, needs to keep track with this rapid evolution in the working environment in order to adapt coaching strategies.
The tourism, catering and cultural professions being strongly affected by this new context, it is then necessary to look for new open windows for young people entering the job market. The medical, construction, digital and delivery fields are now among the most in-demand and are at the forefront of the scene.
The digital, web design and e-commerce sectors, which were already booming before the crisis, and social support sector (children-care, elderly-care, etc.) have been expanding for several months. Added to these areas, there are the so-called “stable” professions, i.e. not so much affected by the crisis such as construction or energy transition.
Thus, in the face of these new opportunities and the reality of the health crisis, job coaching has to become also a support for young people in identifying and promoting transferable and adaptable skills. Are these demanding professional areas attractive for young people? Which skills are transferable to these new sectors? Are the changes in working methods such as home working or smart working appropriate to the profile of the young coachees?
Eventually, volunteerism is also fashionable nowadays with an increase in demand, particularly from young people facing difficulties in finding work and having a growing desire for solidarity and commitment to help others. In this sense, young people willing to involve in this way can discover and develop new professional and interpersonal skills, while making themselves useful to society. Beyond the search for employment, the job coach has to facilitate constructive and useful alternatives for the target group.
New working practices for the job coach
Job coaching is constantly evolving in its practice in light of societal changes. The job coach has also to adapt oneself to the current challenges and needs to acquire new digital skills. The example of new and varied tools for remote communication allows the job coach to keep the link with young people in order to maintain a trustful relationship.
However, the 2020-2021 health crisis has also highlighted the digital gap that already exists for some young audiences and a lack of access to IT tools that is spreading throughout society. Even with a relatively young target group, adapting to a completely digital world, with online and distant contacts, remains a significant challenge.
Consequently, job coaches are keen to enable their audience to be trained in basic digital tools in order to enable remote communication that can lead to online skills workshops or online pilot tests for job interviews. The latter are becoming a norm in a growing number of professional sectors. Currently, for those who prefer face-to-face contact, it is always possible to organise meetings between young people and their job coaches in outdoor environments or in offices, while respecting the sanitarian measures. These meetings have to be reduced and carefully organised. They allow also for a reduction of social isolation that some young people suffer from. Of course, in-between face to face meetings, it is important to keep the link with an online connexion.
Eventually, faced with an uncertain future, professional disorientation or even psychological fragility can be an additional difficulty to overcome. A combination of online group workshops, individual support and individual/ collective empowerment techniques are therefore essential to be developed in the coaching process, both on a professional and psychological level.
The SYMPATIC project: tools and trainings to be equipped during a pandemic
Today more than ever, it is essential that the job coach maintains both professional and social support. At social level, in order to offer stability and guidance, the job coach should encourage remote and regular social interactions and initiatives for personal development. At professional level, reinforced relations with companies, associations and institutions are necessary to maintain in order to keep an eye on professional and training opportunities.
To conclude, projects combining job coaching and mentoring in companies, such as SYMPATIC, are essential as they can play on both sides, social and professional in order to bring support to a target group of young people that are facing integration difficulties.
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