PUM-O Plus Project-based learning for young adults in Slovenia

Sabina Škarja, Euroguidance Slovenia national coordinator, Employment Service of Slovenia
Iris Lojevec and Katja Hren, ALMP experts, Employment Service of Slovenia

PUM-O Plus is a project-based learning for young adults in Slovenia, a non-formal education for young adults that are at least 15 years old and younger than 29, who are experiencing difficulties and obstacles in their career path. They have either left school and are registered at the Employment Service of Slovenia as the unemployed or they are in school thinking of leaving school.

Young adults can enter the programme free of charge, either by contacting their career counsellor at the Employment Service of Slovenia or PUM-O Plus providers in their local area, that will make the necessary arrangements to join the programme. The daily activities are carried out throughout the year, on all working days, for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 7 hours per day, for a total of 30 hours per week. 10 hours per week are dedicated to activities supporting the mentors.

There are variety of different activities going on that enables new learning and dynamic environment. With the support of mentors and other professionals, they can acquire the skills to continue and complete their education and successfully move towards the labour market. Usually they start the day with morning animation focusing on daily activities or different short activities, group dynamics games, discussions, presentations. After a short break, the main workshop, covering a wide range of topics, such as career, personality, science, psychology, sociology, creativity, sports, ecology, everything that helps young people to learn about the world and to progress personally and in their careers. Participants are encouraged to actively co-create the programme, to shape it and to make suggestions about what they would like to do and learn. Moreover, they are carrying out different projects (such as landscaping a garden, published books, videos, a PUM-O anthem, various public installations, etc.).

The advantages of joining PUM-O Plus are that young people socialize and cooperate with their peers, spend their time creatively, decide on their future and career path as well as prepare themselves for re-entering education or employment. The aim is to give young adults the opportunity to enter the world actively and courageously and gain invaluable experience. It is a ticket for young adults to go back to school or find a job.

The programme also has long-term, sometimes unpredictable effects, depending on the circumstances and needs of each young adult. It empowers participants to identify, evaluate and, if necessary, change their behavioral patterns, take responsibility for their own role in shaping their careers and life goals, to become active citizens, and to (re)learn to take responsibility for their decisions, in a group dynamic and with an individualized approach by professionally trained mentors. Although the time of the young adult's involvement in the programme is limited, during this period behavioral patterns are formed in the way of the individual's own active lifelong role in order to improve the quality of life, to bring about change and progress in personal development and, consequently, in the development of society.

PUM-O Plus is active labour market service initiative financed by the Employment Service of Slovenia.