Interview by Francesco Mastrorizzi (from L’Albero) to Valentina Luccarelli
On February 21st and 22nd, we carried out the Italian pilot of Master the Act, the project supported by Erasmus+ which aims to create a new professional figure, the Creative Mentor for Employability, capable of helping job seekers and unemployed people in their professional growth, through the use of a new methodology that combines theatrical techniques with coaching tools and personal development. The activities took place at Porta Futuro Bari, a new-generation employment centre for reception, training and job orientation, promoted by the municipality of Bari.
The two days focused on a series of practical activities, for a total of six hours of training, useful for sharing and disseminating tools and strategies of MACT methodology, developed with the Master the Act project. Participants experienced the use of theatrical and self-narration techniques, specifically those suitable for group contexts, and tested how much they can promote self-reflection and, consequently, greater self-awareness thanks to the interaction with other people.
Valentina, that supported the Italian pilot organisation at Porta Futuro Bari employment centre, was among the participants in the pilot but had previously already been able to approach the MACT methodology, participating in the training week held in Matera in October 2022. We asked Valentina a report on the double training experience lived.
Hi Valentina, can you tell us about your experience with Master the Act, from the training week in Matera to the pilot in Bari?
I had the opportunity to participate in the European experience of the Matera training week, where I was able to get to know not only all the partners and participants from all around Europe, but also most of the exercises foreseen by the full methodology, and in the pilot of Bari, where the methodology was replicated in a reduced form, as training hours were less. The difference between the two training activities was that in the first I worked with people I didn’t know, and in the second I found myself reproducing the same exercises already done during the training week with a working group made up of my colleagues. They were two truly formative experiences for me, which allowed me to get involved in the world of theatre and to unhinge some of my personal rigidities related to the professional field, which I had never questioned before. At the same time, they have allowed me to establish interpersonal relationships with professionals from other parts of Europe, as well as improve the quality of my relationship with my colleagues in Bari.
What people and types of professionals were involved in the two training days organized in Bari to test and disseminate the MACT methodology?
We involved the professionals of Porta Futuro Bari Front, which is a public service offered by the municipality of Bari, managed by external contracting companies, which deal with citizen profiling, compilations of curricula and active research for work. We support and help to enter the labour market citizens looking for a job, those who are in the first job phase, who are trying to change jobs or who want to further train. We do this through front-office activity and free orientation, as well as possible links with accredited companies. Then there is the second level specialist guidance area, which instead is aimed at people who have a specific need for a balance of skills.
Which practical activities provided by the methodology most interested and stimulated the participants in the pilot?
All participants were very impressed by the theatre techniques. For example, when there was the “raft” exercise, in which the trainer Alessandra suggested that we walk and wander around the room almost as if it were a raft to be rebalanced, we really “a group”. But the final exercise of the Disney strategy was also very powerful, in which a colleague recounted her dream and we imagined we were a group that would help her plan and possibly realize her dream in the future.
Have you noticed critical issues in the application of the strategy and methods you acquired during the training week in Matera?
I did not find any major critical issues, except those attributable to the variety of people involved and individual differences, which caused some normal moments of friction. Furthermore, the size of the group led to a loss of contact with the trainers, as they had to be divided among all of us.
Do you think that the group dimension can be an alternative to traditional one-to-one guidance courses for the development of the soft skills of job seekers?
I believe that this training can really contribute in a decisive way to improve the traditional orientation paths. Proposing this different methodology is truly an innovation, a breath of fresh air in the field of developing soft skills and above all awareness. In fact, I think that this methodology can help people who turn to guidance counselling services not only to further develop their soft skills but above all to reinvent themselves in the light of a new awareness. Often, we consultants too, who think we are already profiled and are convinced of our training, actually need it. So, it is as if the balance of skills made in different moments of life can lead to a different awareness.
What techniques do you think should be explored in case of further orientation meetings for those who want to become a Creative Mentor for Employability?
Among the techniques that I would like to explore there is certainly that of the Disney strategy, which allows you to think about the future development of your dream, but it would also be interesting to learn some other techniques related to the theatre, which could be more introspective for the user, to allow him to understand even better what his strengths and weaknesses are.