The situation surrounding COVID-19 caught everyone off guard this year and no one imagined that it would completely change the way we work. Several months have passed now and IVEA partners have widely demonstrated resilience and commitment to continue with the project activities despite the global situation. Unfortunately, like many other projects and programmes, the situation surrounding the pandemic has impacted the timeline and development of the IVEA project.
From April to July 2020, the project partners proceeded to work remotely, and maintained active contact with our trainees and governmental entities, via phone, email and digital platforms. Everyone involved in the IVEA project, from youngsters to stakeholders’, employers and families all used their skills, creativity and adaptability to move the project forward as best they could.
Fortunately, IVEA partners were able to carry on with the face-to-face Courses for Youngsters on the Autistic Spectrum in February, before lockdown measures were introduced. In addition, the Course for employers followed a be-learning model and 2 face-to-face sessions were able to take place before March.
On the other hand, IVEA project’s internships were mid-way through when measures were introduced in March 2020 in order to control the virus. The measures lead to the suspension of all internships taking place in Portugal, Spain and Hungary at that time.
Internships in the different stakeholders, scheduled to start at this time, didn’t take place simultaneously in each of the 3 countries (Portugal, Spain and Hungary) nor in the different organisations of each country.
In Portugal 4 young people with autism had already completed their internship in March. The others suspended the internships and returned in April, May, June and July according to the contracts signed with the stakeholders. In Spain only 3 internships began. All 13 internships were and remain suspended. The restart was planned for the beginning of September. In Hungary only 1 of the 6 internships has not been suspended. Overall, internships were interrupted in all countries and transnational meetings and multiplier events had to be hosted remotely.
Currently, 4 of the young people involved in this project in Portugal are about to finish their internships and 6 young people were given a work contract. In the other countries, youngsters are completing their internships at the moment and some of them are hoping to also receive contracts.
The project has received a 5-month extension and will only finish at the end of August 2021. The project foresees the publication of a European Guide and the release of a smartphone Application.
Isabel Cottinelli Telmo
FPDA – Federação Portuguesa de Autismo
Coordinator of IVEA – Innovative Vocational Education for Autism
Partners – Autism-Europe ; Autismo Burgos ; Mars Foundation ; Universidade Católica Portuguesa ; InterMediaKT