The rationale of this project takes into account the increasing needs of a variety of end users with different professional backgrounds (trainer, mentor, advisor), working with populations in situation of professional vulnerability, and propose interventions for 21st century based on general and specific theoretical approaches that value:
- Personal system: supporting the person to develop a stable and clear image of him/herself, in a world populated with contradictory messages
- Contextual system: supporting the person in the exploration, understanding and use of information about the changing factors in the educational, training and professional world;
- Temporal system: supporting the person to deal with the interaction between the personal system and the contextual system over time, reviewing the past, understanding the present, and outlining the writing of the future;
- Complexity, chance, unpredictability, and instability of life contexts: awareness of the permanent mutation of the world of work and the uncertainty associated with it; getting used to the ambiguity and difficulty of predicting the future;
- Personal agency in the attribution of meanings and in the process of change, namely through the acquisition and training of life/career skills: to have the flexibility of mind to easily abandon a blind prospect in favour of another.
Thus, it proposes a four dimensional schema that includes personal, contextual and temporal dimensions and a process of change based on training transitional skills (Figure 4):
Figure 4. Personal, contextual, and temporal systems in the intervention to support the construction of life projects of people in situation of professional vulnerability
The personal, contextual and temporal systems are described as (table 1):
central role in the process of elaboration and realization of future intentions:
- Focused on the self-knowledge of the individual, that is, on the mental representation that the person has of the set of characteristics that defines him/her;
- The subjective perception of his/her main characteristics: age, gender, ethnicity, personality, values, interests, life and transitional skills;
fundamental to help make conscious, strategic and informed decisions:
- It corresponds to the individual’s experiences in his/her relation with the external world, namely family, education, work, and community groups (e.g., religious, political, cultural);
- Offers information on useful opportunities for education, training and professional practice (being able to seek and use, in a timely and appropriate manner, highly relevant career information);
it allows to understand that an individual is the sum of his/her experiences during the life time, as well as of the meaning given to these events by the person:
- It focuses on the person’s life history and establishes relationships between past, present and future (re-analysis and re-assessment of the life course carried out up to now, and (re) construction of his/her narrative);
- From the evaluation of difficulties and opportunities, it aims to identify the competencies needed to reformulate successful lives projects;
Table 1. Systems and themes of intervention in the construction of life projects
|Personal||Age, gender, ethnicity
Community Groups (e.g., religious, cultural and political)
(difficulties and opportunities)
The change process is based on the development of four dimensions (table 2):
- Self-knowledge: corresponds to the personal system of the individual. This dimension consists of a range of activities aimed at supporting the participants in collecting, analysing, interpreting and using personal information. This is especially useful in regards to personality characteristics, values, interests, personal skills, and strengths. This dimension will help the participant in getting a clear understanding of, and building a stronger sense of his/her identity. Includes the clarification of self-concept (personality, values, interests, strengths, life roles); development of self-esteem (life projects—changes to be made);
- World knowledge: corresponds to the contextual system. This dimension consists of the development of a set of activities that allow to collect, analyse, interpret, and use information related to the training and professional world of the participants, and their main objectives in life. The exploration of the environmental information must take into account the previously gathered information about oneself. Exploring the world (professional, training, and educational) is a fundamental step in ensuring that participants make decisions in a conscious and informed way, based on reliable and creditable sources of information. This information also has to be related to participants’ knowledge of themselves (personal desires, interests, values, and expectation). Includes curiosity and exploration of the environment (educational, training, professional opportunities); identification and promotion of networks (family, social-support);
- Transitional skills: “Skill is the ability to perform tasks or cope with various situations effectively, in a particular context, and it is therefore necessary to mobilise attitudes, skills and knowledge, at the same time and interrelated” (Zabala & Arnau, 2007). Transitional skills correspond to the changes people want to make in order to transform their present into their desired future. They include the development of motivation, persistence and resilience; adaptability; communication and tolerance of difference; and time management skills.
- Decision-making: involves the temporal system, more specifically the design and construction of the desired future. People can motivate themselves by setting goals for future actions and preferable scenarios. It is important, however, that these goals are clear and achievable, if they are to be satisfactory and strengthen people’s faith in their ability to act. Also, effective goal systems are organized hierarchically, where the closest milestones regulate the motivation and the actions that are necessary to reach the overall goals. Enterprising action will become manageable and possible if people “always” deal with the ‘next best action’ through small steps of full control. It includes the development of life/career goals, and implementation and development of action plans (identification of activities, behaviours, tasks; identification of obstacles and possible resources to overcome them).
Table 2. Dimensions to work on intervention in the construction of life projects
Identification of target group
The target group for this project consists of young adults (between 18 and 30 years of age), in a situation of professional vulnerability, including migrants and refugees, in particular those who are unemployed due to a gap between their competences and those required by the labour market in host country (Figure 5). It should be noted that the background of the target group is determined by a wide variety of characteristics that need to be taken in account (e.g., age, gender) as well as the context in which they are (e.g., racism) and all these influence their personality characteristics, interests, values and attitudes, expectations and objectives, the perception of opportunities and barriers in the context, and the demand for and experience of counselling itself.
As an example, a study evaluating the training needs in the construction of life projects, which was produced with the participation of SCML (Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa) trainers, the professionals working with people in situations of vulnerability, verified that these professionals identify the following to be the main characteristics/problems in their target public:
- Personal problems (e.g., low self-esteem, immaturity, lack of autonomy),
- Academic problems (e.g., reduced educational attainment, failure, absenteeism)
- Occupational problems (e.g., lack of professional experience, precarious and unskilled jobs), and
- Social problems (e.g., domestic violence, drug addiction, poverty, exclusion).
Figure 5. Target groups
This heterogeneity in personal and contextual variables cannot, and should not be ignored when the goal is to provide professional support with high standards of quality and effectiveness. Application to other groups implies adaptations to the specific characteristics of the intended recipients.
Identification of end users
The Live2Work programme is proposed as a professional development to qualified end-users, preferably those with a background in social or educational areas, such as psychologists, social workers or educators, in the context of their interventions in the construction of life projects, for which it is considered they have been properly prepared (Figure 6). In this regard, we would like to stress the importance of the work competencies these professional end-users should possess in order to be able to perform their functions. These needed competencies are presented in section 2.3 of this Live2Work manual. In addition, it is important to highlight the importance of interacting with other key stakeholders, in particular actively cooperating with universities, employment centres, public institutions supporting immigration, non-governmental organizations who work with this type of public, directly or indirectly.
Figure 6. End users
Keep in mind
- Personal system à Self-knowledge dimensions
- Contextual system à World knowledge dimension
- Temporal system à Decision making dimension
- Complexity, chance, unpredictability, and instability of life contexts à Transitional skills dimension
- Personal agency in the attribution of meanings and in the process of change, namely through the acquisition and training of life/career skills à transversal to all the project dimensions
- Young adults and adults (18-30 years old)
- Professional vulnerable situation due to a gap between qualifications and skills, and labour market requirements
- Migrants and refugees