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Break Down, Break Out

Post 3 of 8

Title of the project: “Break Down, Break Out”

Project Website: http://www.breakingout.eu

Project Start Date: 01 September 2014

Project End Date:  31 August 2016

Coordinator: UNIVERSITY OF CHESTER, United Kingdom


- Asociaţia de Studii Socio-Economice, Romania

- Asociaţia Fantom, Romania


- Fondazione Risorsa Donna, Italy

- European Grants International Academy Srls Unipersonale, Italy



- The Multi-Disciplinary Center, Israel

The ‘Break Down, Break Out’ project aims to demonstrate and document how new learning strategies for long-term unemployed can empower them to take action. These low qualified Europeans are hit the hardest from economic pressures and this process provides simple and practice based guidance.

“Across Europe, however, a single pattern emerges: people who face the greatest challenges, among them low-qualified unemployed adults, are often those to whom the fewest policy and programme options are addressed.” CEDEFOP Return to work, 2013

The guidance is based on the authentic learning scenarios acted out by the participating adults. By learning through acting in the community, these adults can be empowered to change.

The project is based on a simple methodology cycle, interfacing directly with the Community: OBAMA

• Orientation

• Briefing

• Ability

• Meeting and Action

The process is ongoing and iterative through a variety of themes, actions and initiatives, through which it will create a spiral of increasing capacity to act among the adults.

In many European regions structural and long-term unemployment in particular has led to social distress and desperation. Millions of Europeans are threatened with ‘break-down’ situations.

“Too many people live in poverty and social isolation. Poverty implies an inability to participate in society on a level that the majority in that society takes for granted. In all, 72 million EU citizens – 15 % – are at risk of poverty, with another 36 million on the verge of that risk” Commission: Empowering people, driving change: Social innovation in the European Union, 2011

Traditionally adult education has been concerned with offering adults an opportunity to shift their labour market orientation, update skills or enlighten their lives through formal and non-formal courses. However economic impact has left millions of low educated adults in desperate dead-end situations, from which there seems no way out: the jobs are not there and adult learning is often seen as a luxury that only few can afford.

It is clear we are facing a dramatically different situation in adult unemployment and adult learning.

The prevailing response is more vocational training, more higher education. But for millions of unemployed adults this response is a contradiction: if an adult did not even find capacity and motivation to join adult learning, why should they, now 50 years old, be able to successfully engage in such education? And even if able, it no longer guarantees a job.

Recently there has been a focus on more empowering adult learning more oriented towards developing transversal and general competences, such as change management, entrepreneurial mind-sets and digital fluency. Whilst valid and useful, these initiatives too often support the “survival” capacity of long-term unemployed adults, but they hardly change the adults’ basic social-economic situation.

Europe has a longer term vision for adult learning, in the period up to 2020, which includes objectives to:

• enhance the possibilities for adults, regardless of gender and their personal and family circumstances, at any time in their lives, in order to promote personal and professional development, empowerment, adaptability, employability and active participation in society:

• develop a new approach, which focuses on learner responsibility and autonomy;

• encourage higher education institutions to embrace less traditional groups of learners, such as adult learners, as a means of displaying social responsibility and greater openness towards the community at large

• promote the role of social partners and civil society in …… developing learning opportunities for adults

Commission: Education and Training (ET 2010)

In designing this partnership, we were driven by find new ways to address these, to help unemployed adults to change their mind-sets. Basically introvert adult learning and empowerment strategies need to be changed into extrovert learning strategies: learning through taking action in the community, through changing, through creating things and new situations. When well conducted, such action learning offers solid ways for adults to undergo life change.

We also seek to reflect the Commission’s call for cross-sector and public-private partnerships to find new ways for long-term unemployed adults. This is why the Sabadell Chamber of Commerce is engaged in the partnership, representing a social and labour market oriented private sector with strong entrepreneurial resources.

The project and partnership represents a future-oriented joining forces approach, regarding chronic unemployment as a community responsibility, not simply a public or personal one.

Learning through acting in the community, the adults can become subjects of change instead of objects of change.

This initiative offers experimentation with a much more offensive approach to help these adults to find sustainable ways out of the seemingly dead-end situations.

Published media

Breakin’ News

  1. Breakin’ News Nr. 1 April 2015 – EN
  2. Breakin’ News Nr. 2 October 2015 – EN
  3. Breakin’ News Nr. 3 January 2016 – EN

Poster: Unemployed taking action

Agenda: Craiova 2015

Article: There are solutions for the unemployed over 45 years!

Dissemination photographs

BDBO final report