The inception of the DOT project took place amidst the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, a period marked by widespread lockdowns. As offices shut down in response, the rehabilitative work activities within adult social work encountered the need to pivot towards alternative approaches to serve their clients. Swiftly, Helsinki’s work activities underwent a transformation, adapting to novel remote and hybrid solutions.
Amidst the pandemic, a pressing demand emerged to enhance the digital competencies of both work activities’ clients and personnel. The initiative named ‘DOT – Enhancing Digital Skills through Work Activities’ secured ESF funding for a year and a half, spanning until August 2023. The DOT project is now funded by the Häme Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, along with the City of Helsinki. Spearheaded by Helsinki’s Western adult social work, the project finds collaborative synergy with Forum Virium Helsinki, a municipally owned innovation company.
DOT project bolsters equal opportunity, inclusion and occupational competence for Helsinki residents
The central aim of the DOT project is to enhance the digital proficiencies of participants engaged in Helsinki’s rehabilitative work activities. This endeavour seeks to amplify employment prospects, bolster active involvement and inclusivity, and equip individuals with essential digital literacy indispensable for societal functioning.
The project’s efforts are organised into three subdomains:
1. advancement of digital competence
2. piloting a virtual workshop
3. establishment of a digital workshop and equipment recycling.
Propelled by the DOT project, the work activities within Helsinki’s health and social services have undergone a rapid transformation, empowering clients to significantly enhance their digital proficiencies.
“Development work has been a collaborative effort involving both clients and personnel. Everyone involved has had a substantial role, fostering our capacity to offer services finely attuned to the genuine requirements of our clients,” asserts Saara Teinilä, the Project Manager at the helm of the DOT project.
Cultivating digital proficiencies through diverse training approaches
The project organises an array of courses and training modules for clients, encompassing a spectrum of themes including digital health services, digital skills within working life, information security, and boosting digital confidence.
Concurrently, training sessions tailored for personnel prioritise the enhancement of client guidance by refining the digital proficiencies of work activity staff. An additional emphasis is placed on pedagogical components and motivational strategies.
Incorporating digital skills guidance into the standard onboarding process for work activity personnel is a pivotal objective. Ensuring that staff can adeptly equip their clients to navigate essential citizen-level digital services holds paramount significance, thereby diminishing barriers to engagement in the digital sphere. The enhancement of clients’ digital competencies subsequently mirrors improvements in their vocational skills and social integration.
“The digital realm is a space meant for all, and our resolute aspiration and objective lie in rendering it captivating and accessible to our clients,” affirms Evelin Vlahopoulou, Senior Supervisor of digital and remote services in work activities.
Development and trial of a virtual workshop learning platform
A novel unit has been established within Helsinki’s health and social services’ work activities: an innovative virtual workshop that extends clients an avenue to engage in supervised remote work activities.
This virtual workshop boasts a dedicated team, including two instructors and other adept work activity experts, tasked with generating platform content and conducting instructional sessions for various training modules. Designed with user-friendliness in mind, this platform facilitates client learning, ranging from navigating digital service landscapes to delving into information security and honing information retrieval proficiencies.
Instructors have the capability to incorporate specialised workshop content into the platform, catering to clients’ needs. Within the virtual workshop setting, clients gain access to a range of instructions pertinent to their workshop group, including resources on topics like chair spray varnishing. Engaging with these platform materials acquaints clients with the digital realm, effectively reducing the barriers that may inhibit them from delving deeper into the expansive digital landscape.
Lately, clients have exhibited a pronounced interest in artificial intelligence, embarking on a collaborative journey of exploration guided by our instructors. This voyage encompasses diverse subjects, often leveraging the expertise of guest lecturers or relevant podcasts to delve deeper.
“In tailoring remote rehabilitative work activities, we diligently address the needs of our target groups. Our team encompasses instructors from diverse disciplines who not only design course content for clients but also champion their own areas of expertise. We uphold an accessible approach to training, aiming to include as many individuals as possible. For instance, clients have the opportunity to participate in a cooking course on a trial basis, gauging their interest before committing fully,” Evelin elaborates.
Within the virtual workshop, a dedicated discussion forum caters to remote days, providing clients with a platform for mutual peer support while also offering access to a substance abuse counsellor for guidance. Furthermore, clients engage in various written exercises aimed at honing writing skills and fostering self-reflection. The virtual workshop also serves as a practical arena for clients to refine job-seeking competencies, such as identifying personal strengths and crafting effective job applications and CVs.
“Elevating the significance of reflection exercises in terms of both pedagogy and rehabilitation is vital. These exercises encourage clients to contemplate how the skills acquired in workshops align with their daily lives. The approach is grounded in practicality: clients are guided to discern why the digital realm is essential, the prospects it presents, and how they can effectively integrate it into their personal journey,” Evelin says.
Upholding an inspirational approach to digitality
The DOT project is now reaching its final phase, and the project team is delighted in the seamless integration of the developed packages into established practices.
“Our journey has been enlightening. Now is the time to grab the best parts and continue the development work. Touring different units to discuss our services has evolved into a pivotal weekly undertaking. The reception is consistently warm and curious, and each tour has increased our roster of clients for digital training sessions and remote work activities,” Evelin says.
“The digital courses are truly remarkable. They stimulate thought and kindle a multitude of new ideas,” reflects Ilari, a participant in work activities, as he enjoys a cup of coffee.
“At its core, our endeavour aims to render our presence unnecessary. Providing clients experiences of success and achievement holds profound significance, particularly for those grappling with various life challenges. Helsinki’s health and social services’ work activities stand as a dynamic realm where passion underpins every task. The DOT project has unquestionably brought about significant positive impacts on the lives of many individuals, including both clients and staff members,” concludes Evelin with a smile.