We are a group of organisations (public and private) that have performed a SWOT model analysis to clarify who we are and what we want in order to help our communities.
We began by assessing our STRENGTHS. The Slovenian and Lithuanians have much experience (implementation, mistakes and success) in tourism: attracting urban people, both nationally and internationally! They prepared several itineraries to offer great experiences to exploit the rural area (municipalities suffering depopulation due to a lack of employment opportunities). The Portuguese have experience in training learners in different areas related to food and drink. They aim to train their students on the processes for analysing, elaborating and distributing products such as wine, coffee, pastries and ice cream. We value their practical experience on the local labour market. Next, the Bulgarians institution was a vital institution for potential businesses locally, for training, making analyses, and their expertise in different areas: law or accountancy. They also help with networking, negotiating and are experienced in providing vocational training to cater for "potential" and established local businesses. We were impressed by all their experience in nurturing entrepreneurship and so believed they would be a great asset. As for the Italians, they have experience in fishing, viticulture and olive growing, favoured by a spectacular landscape, and a mild climate. Finally, as coordinators, the Spanish adult education centre have participated in numerous projects on different topics which always concern emotional, linguistic, ITC and holistic training for our learners and teachers. We have always joined the activities and results from different projects so we know what our local community needs to grow. Currently, we are studying depopulation and aim to inspire our learners to improve their knowledge and employment perspectives. That is our main strength, our 20-year experience.
Regarding WEAKNESSES. Some councils insist on having specific temporary employment plans for low-skilled jobs, rather than allocating funds to helping people develop self-employment options. SUSTRADER organisations have different fears/obligations: having to provide learners with curricular contents within a specific period or losing the support of their councils by having their funds cut off. This is a permanent threat, but, as we stated previously, we have a great deal of positive and constructive experience for overcoming different obstacles. Actually, SUSTRADER is an attempt to overcome, with positive synergies, all real challenges that can be tackled if we help and learn from each other.
As for OPPORTUNITIES. We think this European project offers many prospects to all partners. We are certain that, together, we can create a constructive network primarily among learners who will have the chance to actively participate in the activities proposed by the hosting mobility, as well as those implemented in between them (in which we will take into account suggestions, tips and will replicate what we consider to be viable in our context). This methodology is based on our aim to empower our learners with the feeling: "I can be the engine of my future!" which is the attitude we need to help change the perspective of those inhabiting our villages/small towns. That is the opportunity we wish to seize and highlight to local/regional politicians and media. We will involve the whole community by presenting our products and implementing workshops in our mobilities. We will take our learners to successful cooperatives and family-run businesses to give them publicity, not only locally but also in the countries participating in SUSTRADER (on our blog, Facebook, Epale, the partners´ websites, local media…).
Finally, regarding the THREATS, we also hope other private businesses will not become tough competitors. Our strong point is our intercultural outlook, with which we have created a working network between us that will be used throughout SUSTRADER and after it ends. This is a protective shield for us (although this might be considered naïve, it is also pure and confident). Another challenge is the constant changes in local/regional/national regulations. Norms related to national parks, guided tours, campsites, rural accommodation, red tape, new taxes, abolition of public subsidies, etc, but, our strength lies in being a learner-focused network. We have demonstrated to evolve/support and/with them and have strong foundations and we are willing to stand up for them. Finally, one major concern we have is negative feedback from some sectors of our different communities (media, politicians, changes in consumer habits…). This is essential in our core of activities as it would be counter-productive if we were unaware of the negative results of any of our actions.