Realisation • 27 July 2023

More job opportunities with an online course offered by Tavistock

In the job market, not everyone gets given the right tools and techniques to get started. That is why the Tavistock Institute is developing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to empower disadvantaged job starters and job seekers to take stock of their talents and work confidently in teams.

Rachel Kelly is a consultant at the Tavistock Institute, which worked with partners in the UK, Belgium, and France on the Interreg project: Boosting Human Capital in the 21st Century (BHC21). "Over the past few years, we have worked closely together and learned a lot. We didn't want those lessons to be lost. Hence the idea of incorporating them into an online course."

"We will soon offer the course through FutureLearn, an e-learning platform. It will be a massive open online course, open to everyone. Probably for free, or perhaps in exchange for a modest fee."

Getting to work

"The course is aimed at people who have fewer opportunities than most of us. They often live in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and struggle with all kinds of problems: financial, mental, relational.... They also struggle in the labour market. They may function badly in groups, are sensitive to stress, have difficulty dealing with criticism and conflicts... They often really do have a lot of potential, but no one has ever pointed this out to them."

"The course consists of four modules of three hours each. Participants take one module each week, so after four weeks they are done, in one sense, but we hope they will continue to think about the ideas we’ve introduced on the course. Upon completion, FutureLearn gives them a certificate."

"We are deliberately making the course very accessible. You get theoretical insights, but above all you get to think and practice. Watching animations, learning about ideas about we work in groups, solving tasks, doing a quiz... All with the same aim: to make you think about who you are, how you function in a working environment and team dynamics."

"You follow the course on your own - there is no one sitting on the other side of the screen. You can chat with other participants, though, so you can support and learn from each other."

Four weeks, four themes

"Each module has a theme. In week one, it is: Yourself and your identity. The first exercise is called 'What's in a name?': what do you think about your own name, where did it come from and how do you think others respond to it? This helps you become more aware of yourself and your place in a group. You are also offered ideas and techniques that allow you to see how your behaviour is driven by both positive and negative emotions, often without you realising it. Mindfulness is one such technique."

"In week two, you look at your relationships at work: with colleagues, bosses, clients.... You learn to see when competition becomes unhealthily rivalrous, why we sometimes look at others too rigidly or project our own traits onto them, or how to deal with other people's expectations."

"The third week is about your role at work. How do you tackle an assignment? How do you know when you've done well, or at least well enough? How do you deal with authority? How do you stand up for yourself without getting into an argument?"

"And finally, in the fourth week, you learn how to function better in a team. How do group dynamics work? Can you be both a leader and a follower? You also learn that you can not only look at how you work, but also learn from how others work: how can you achieve the best results together?"

"After each module, participants can reflect on and write down their experiences in a digital diary.”

Job coaches

"We plan to launch the course at the end of February - it will be available across Europe. We will advertise it on social media, and we also hope to work with the Department for Work and Pensions here in the UK. They have job coaches who can direct jobseekers towards the course.”

“Based on participants’ experiences, we can fine-tune the course later. It is the first online course we are developing, so we don't expect it to be perfect straightaway."

“We will see how many people take the course, but I am convinced it will benefit them. More self-knowledge and self-confidence, better communication with others.... If we can contribute to that, we will have done a good job."

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