CREUS Project Background

CREUS emerged from the need to explore and establish innovative ways to apply non-formal cultural and artistic learning in the enhancement of young people’s (aged 16-24) employability by supporting the development of transferable and transversal key competences (key competences concerned with communication skills, sense of initiative & entrepreneurship, cultural awareness & expression and social and civic competences). The project prioritises and explores learning by peer mentoring in unconventional spaces, which young people do not traditionally associate with formal education. It addresses both the horizontal and sectoral priorities concerned with the development of relevant basic, transversal and soft skills needed to progress to relevant VET or employment in the labour market, as well as developing new methodologies for key competences in VET towards the social inclusion of NEET youth.

Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) are the end beneficiaries of CREUS, which seeks to improve their personal development/life skills of young people (confidence, communication, team-working, presentation, problem solving, time management, responsibility, attitude & motivation) to enable them to experience achievement & success.

Peer Mentoring in Unconventional Spaces

In the context of CREUS, peer mentoring is defined as learning from individuals with similar backgrounds, enhanced experiences, through cooperation and shared practices. The work hypothesis is that space is important as a factor potentiating the interaction and exchange of knowledge between mentor and mentee, between peers. CREUS considers unconventional spaces as a variable that maximises the learning experience of vulnerable young people through peer mentoring. As locations not usually associated with formal education (youth clubs, community centres, shelters, playgrounds, town halls, churches, adapted industrial spaces, museums and art galleries, open air spaces tunnels, farmyards, sports centres), unconventional spaces have an informal character that helps young people to engage and appropriate the process of learning.

Mentoring methodologies can increase self-awareness and self-confidence; support and enhance communication, facilitate networking; promote initiative; develop and practice skills that prepare young people for employment and life. A successful mentoring programme will have clear expected results outlined from its onset, and will be informed by a theory of change that considers the effectiveness of the activities in which mentors and mentees engage in relation to existing needs. Such theory should examine the work programme’s effectiveness; explain the measurability of results; and draw on evidence-based-practice, relevant research and theory to be aligned with local needs, contexts and circumstances.

Skills such as team-working, the ability to learn, and the capacity to do collaborative work in a multidisciplinary context are core to creative industries and can be acquired through mentorship practices. Learning in creative industries often occurs in experiential spaces “where play matters as much as work, where inter-disciplinary teams interact in a spirit of co-operation, and where participants learn from each other creating a support network along the way”. Space can enable or deter the emergence of a community of learning, influencing the set of social interactions that can facilitate learning and engagement, collective meaning-making, mentorship. The learning environment and the learners’ attachment to space are important in the process of learning, influencing learner’s emotional responses and enhancing motivation and will to learn.

Research has shown that places and spaces inhabited by NEET young people play a role in perpetuating or interrupting marginalisation. CREUS seeks to formulate a methodology of integration in which unconventional learning spaces that motivate individuals, stimulate creativity, and generate emotional connections are central to the process of shared experiential knowledge.