The B-WISE project organised a session during the European Social Economy Summit (EUSES) at the end of May!
On the 27th May, EASPD, ENSIE, EURICSE, Fundacion ONCE and AfB Group, co-organised, in the framework of the B-WISE project a session on “Innovation and digitalisation in Europe’s work integration social enterprises (WISEs)” during the online European Social Economy Summit (EUSES) 2021. This session aimed at providing an overview of digital and innovation practices within the WISEs sector across Europe.
The session started with a presentation made by Giulia Galera from EURICSE, one of the B-WISE project partners, during which she presented the first results of their study of the current situation of skill gaps in the WISEs sector. She proposed a draft common definition of WISEs and showcased the diversity of WISEs legal structures in Europe as well as the preliminary data of WISEs and disadvantaged workers. To finish, she made a few remarks on the trends concerning WISEs target groups, and the economic sectors. The final report, prepared by EURICSE, summarising the findings on those topics, should be ready by the end of this year.
The session continued with a presentation of what innovation means within the sector, by Martina Paterniti from ENSIE. After explaining why WISEs needed the digital technologies for teaching, communication or management, she showed how some WISEs have already adapted their work to new technologies, with the goal to help their integration. She explained that the development of digital skills is needed for all the WISEs workers (disadvantaged groups, supporting staff and enablers). However, there are barriers to technology use and digital skills development in WISEs such as the high costs and insufficient funding, the lack of information on the existing digital technologies, the lack of knowledge and skills on how to use the digital devices in the WISE environment and insufficient training adapted to the needs of the WISE sector. To develop an effective digitalisation of the WISEs sector, WISEs need to have accessible technologies, to train the workers and to develop framework conditions for gaining new skills and optimal processes and organisational structures provided within WISEs. Konstantina Leventi, from EASPD, presented a general insight of the Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills in WISEs project (B-WISE).
This first part was followed by several workshops that gave participants the opportunity to learn what WISEs or WISEs networks at national/regional levels are implementing to deal with the digital transition on the ground and how this affects their work. Some WISEs such as Ateliere Fara Frontiere (Romania) and ŠENT (Slovenia), Maatwerk Group (Belgium), Gidts Group (Belgium), AfB group (Germany), Cedris (The Netherlands) explained the improvements made in both digital areas in the last years as well as the methods used to convert challenges into opportunities for WISEs and disadvantaged workers. The COVID-19 crisis has affected the way of working and the financial sustainability of several WISEs, but thanks to cooperation among actors working within the social economy as well as to the public support and the youngsters, innovation measures have allowed to renovate and help the sector. At the end, digital skills gaps, upskilling and reskilling issues have been discussed to display how the B-WISE project is key as it will develop a strategy to overcome them at European level.