On 4-8 October Oltean Csongor, co-founder of StartUp Hub – Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Adult Education and Vocational Training, and Béres Norbert, project manager of the Digipreneurship for the Disabled project funded through the Erasmus+ programme, took part in a working visit to Turkey to exchange experience and information. Through the Digipreneurship for the Disabled project run by Edelweiss Training and Development srl (part of the StartUp Hub ecosystem) participants from Romania, together with partners from Turkey and Belgium, have the opportunity to accumulate knowledge, ideas on the different forms of adult education and vocational training in the three countries, as well as an insight into the different forms of employment and training offered to people with disabilities.

The main objective of the project carried out in partnership by Edelweiss Training and Development – whose non-reimbursable funding they obtained last year – is to provide, through site visits and exchange of experience, a clearer picture of the opportunities available in Belgium, Turkey and Romania for people with disabilities – with physical or mental impairments – especially in terms of access to employment, what is the degree of digitisation in these segments, and what adult education systems exist in these countries.

In Turkey there are centres for people with disabilities and adult training centres in 82 cities. StartUp Hub representatives had the opportunity to visit two such centres in the city of Corum. The centres for people with disabilities are equipped to a high standard, and each person with a disability receives special attention from instructors and carers. The centres ensure that the basic knowledge of the various occupations is acquired and the results of the training process are measurable within a year. Objects and tools made by people with disabilities are sold by the centre and the assisted persons receive the value of the goods. In the first centre visited, mainly children with physical or mental disabilities are offered creative and development workshops adapted to their abilities, but they also have the opportunity to participate in special leisure and sports activities under the constant supervision of teachers/carers. The funds necessary for the operation of the centre are fully provided by the Turkish state, the cost of basic materials and consumables, the salaries of instructors and carers and the general maintenance costs of the centre are also covered. Activities for children with severe and milder disabilities are free of charge for participants. In addition, the state provides scholarships to children and parents who use the services of these centres.

The other centre, for adult education and training, is almost entirely maintained by the Turkish state. Providing vocational training in 400 occupational fields, the services are used by 40,000 people annually in the city of about 400,000 inhabitants. In Turkey, the state maintains adult education programmes, which can be accessed by anyone who has completed compulsory education and needs a vocational qualification for a particular purpose. It is important to know that in Turkey you need a vocational qualification to set up your own business, and those involved can get it in these centres. Also in these centres the acquisition of the necessary knowledge is carried out in workshops, the basic materials are not provided by the state, but the salaries of the instructors, and the general costs of the centre are covered by the state budget. The “students” can freely dispose of the tools and objects they have made during the training. Upon completion of the vocational courses they obtain an accredited qualification certificate.

The experiences gained during the visit confirm that in Romania and Turkey both the support of people with disabilities in order to help them in the occupational field, as well as the education and training of adults is approached completely differently. While in Turkey there are state-maintained centres in both areas, in Romania social services of this kind are entrusted to the private sector (civil and entrepreneurial). EU non-reimbursable funds that can be used for this purpose are also “outsourced” to civil organisations and enterprises. The core activities of Edelweiss Training and Development are adult training and vocational education, which is why it is extremely important to take advantage of these possibilities, fund them as much as possible, and use foreign experiences to create the most effective adult training opportunities. The example of training centres in Turkey can be very useful for the organisation of adult education in Romania. ” – Oltean Csongor concluded.

The next phase of the project is a similarly themed visit to Belgium. The project will be completed with the production of a detailed booklet, which will include a comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the three countries in the areas mentioned, a summary of possible improvement measures, as well as ideas and proposals on the role that NGOs and enterprises operating in these segments can play in the process of reform and improvement.

StartUp HUB Press Office