New project 'WORK and LEARN' offers vulnerable people sound combination of work experience and training

MolenGeek, Proximus and the iKanbi contact centers partnered up for a new joint initiative, WORK and LEARN, to be launched today in Antwerp. Participants work part-time as help desk employees while benefiting from comprehensive ICT training sessions, with the prospect of a permanent job at the end of the program.

Through their WORK and LEARN project, all three parties are looking to set up a customized training program to help - often vulnerable - people in need of work experience and training to find their way to the labor market. To conduct this pilot project, a specific methodology was tailored to profiles who are distanced from the labor market: the long-term unemployed, youngsters who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) and disadvantaged groups.

Such an approach is necessary: figures from VDAB (which also supports the project) show that 7 out of every 100 people between the ages of 15 and 29 in Flanders find themselves in a NEET situation. Young people who neither work nor are in education for an extended period of time are also more likely to be unemployed or inactive later on in their life.

Work experience and ICT training go hand in hand

In a first stage, participants are given the opportunity to grow into professional contact center agents (help desk employees) over a 4-month period. In the process, they receive technical training to get familiar with the work environment at Proximus while gaining valuable experience by operating in iKanbi's teams as a fully-fledged agents. This on-the-job training allows them to develop both soft and technical skills.

In a second stage, over a 11-month period, the trainee agents remain employed at iKanbi on a part-time basis to dedicate the rest of their time to comprehensive ICT training courses at BorgerHub, a MolenGeek facility in Borgerhout. There, participants receive AWS training to get a good grasp on cloud computing, corporate data management and the development of enterprise mobile services and applications. This way, they are prepared and mentored to obtain an AWS certification, which is sure to open doors in their future careers.

A first group of seven participants experienced the first stage training over the past few weeks and are starting their AWS courses in Borgerhout today. The three partners are committed, to the extent possible, to providing job opportunities for each of these people at the end of the program, either within their own company or with another company in the technology sector.

After completing the entire track, participants are offered a contract for an ICT or contact center position. The three partners guarantee career prospects for each of them, either within their own company or with another company in the tech sector.

This training pilot is meant to become a structural program, whose methodology can be applied at different sites and in different work sectors. For example, the program could be expanded in the future to include training as a technician, back-office assistant or representative.

Three complementary partners to support this project

The WORK and LEARN project is endorsed by three complementary partners, each doing their part in their own way while sharing a common goal: to contribute to an inclusive society where digital technology is accessible to all. The partners also want to motivate and encourage other companies to get on board with this new concept. After all, there are more than 10,000 ICT open positions in Flanders, in diverse fields such as cyber security, artificial intelligence, data analytics to name but a few.

Our mission is to make the tech sector accessible to any person who wishes to ride the digital wave, regardless of background or education level. WORK and LEARN creates this inclusive setting with opportunities for all.

We feel we have a responsibility on a human and social level. Which basically comes down to nurturing a corporate culture that focuses on human values. WORK and LEARN provides this human setting and offers opportunities to vulnerable people.

foto van iemand die gequote wordt

At Proximus, we are boldly building a connected world that people trust and is accessible to all so society blooms. The purpose of WORK and LEARN is to endow vulnerable individuals with digital skills and provide a technological framework helping everyone to keep up to meet the tomorrow's digital challenges.


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