Hard times, Soft skills
The HATI-SOS (Hard Times-Soft skills) Central European Partnership, the latest 2-year project of the Profilantrop Association, funded by the European Union's Erasmus+ programme, aims to provide the region's SSEs with a tailored set of soft skills methods and tools.
But what are these soft skills and why do they need to be developed?
Soft skills eg. are non-violent communication, giving and receiving feedback, empathic listening, self-care, shared leadership and organisation, conflict management, effective facilitation of meetings, and participatory decision-making. For organisations that aim for economic democracy, make decisions collectively and work actively to reduce gender, race and class inequalities among their members, these skills are essential.
Compared to conventional enterprises, this more socially engaged operation imposes a significant task overload on the communities of SSEs, as classical enterprise management methods do not design with these focuses in mind. The rational, administrative, strategic aspects of these extra tasks are called hard skills, and their development is also a long-term goal. But now we will focus on approaches that require not planning and calculation, but caring for each other, learning new languages of communication, and developing alternative decision-making systems.
The first major output of HATI-SOS will be a training course that will deliver in a participatory way, in 4 modules, the tools and practices to develop the soft skills identified in the preliminary research. These trainings, 2 days per module, will be held in autumn 2022 in all 4 Visegrad countries, in their own languages. After the events, we will collect feedback from participants and incorporate it to create a playbook that will serve as a useful tool for those starting out on the path of the Solidarity Economy or those already on it.
Our second training will tailor the same tools to the needs of activists and active citizens. Here the main focus will be on organising large-scale events, community working skills for effective campaigns and participatory budgeting. The training will take place in Prague in summer 2023 and will include the practical part of co-organising a regional Solidarity Economy Forum in Budapest. Here too, we will incorporate the insights of participants to turn the training material into a free downloadable, widely usable organiser's guide.
The members of the HATI-SOS partnership are the Polish FER with more than 30 years of experience in shaping attitudes, the Czech EA working on human rights in the context of the Solidarity Economy, the Slovak Utopia, a feminist economy and participatory budgeting expert, and the Profilantrop Association, which is currently working on the promotion of the transformative economy and regenerative development. We are supported by Ripess Europe, the facilitator organisation of Europe's largest solidarity economy network, which brings its experience, contacts and knowledge to our work.
Based on the experience of our partners, the shortage of Hungarian language materials on our topics and the general organisational needs identified in the meetings of the Hungarian Solidarity Economy Network, we hope that the HATI-SOS project will fill a gap in Hungarian activism and open a new phase for the co-operating organisations.