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A new opportunity for people who are currently unemployed


This February the Integration Foundation launched a pilot mentoring programme for unemployed people known by its Estonian acronym TEMP. Anyone interested can take part in the programme as either a mentor or mentee. The aim is to support Estonian residents who are out of work and for whom limited skills in the national language, a restricted network of contacts and other factors represent obstacles on the labour market. The programme provides the participants with an opportunity to communicate with people from outside of their ordinary circle of acquaintances. This allows them to see things from a different angle and to receive the push they need to make positive changes in their lives.

TEMP is being carried out as part of the CROSS project ‘Cross-border cooperation on mentoring and peer support for immigrants’. The project is being supported from the resources of the INTERREG Central Baltic 2014-2020 programme financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

TEMP hails from Finland, where it has been successfully implemented for many years – so successfully that the Integration Foundation decided to trial the programme in Estonia. In Finland the programme is aimed at people who have recently moved to the country; here in Estonia it has been designed to support residents of the country who are unemployed and wish to improve their position on the labour market.

Who can take part in the programme?

The programme is primarily designed for residents of Tallinn and Ida-Viru County whose Estonian language skills are limited. The greatest support in this ‘risk group’ is needed by those in the 15-25 and 50+ age brackets. However, this does not mean that only people who meet these criteria can apply to take part. The aim of the pilot programme is to determine how much interest there is in the project among unemployed residents of Estonia. Anyone interested can submit an application, although priority will be given to the above-mentioned target group.

TEMP may represent an entirely new experience for Estonia, but mentor programmes as such have long been trialled in the country and proven themselves to be effective methods for the promotion of self-development. Such programmes have been successfully utilised by Integration Foundation, Enterprise Estonia, county development centres, the Network of Estonian Non-profit Organisations and general education schools – for example, Gustav Adolf Grammar School uses one in its teaching work to support students who have fallen behind.

Typical comments from those who have taken part in mentor programmes include:

- “It’s a great opportunity to express your thoughts and to have people talk to you about important issues.”

- “My mentor and I really thought about what I’m doing right and what I could be doing differently in my everyday work in communicating with my colleagues and management.”

Who are the mentors?

Those who are prepared to dedicate their time to regular meetings so as to support people who find themselves in difficult situations and to share their experience with them are invited to take part in the programme as mentors. As a rule, 2-3 meetings taking place each month, with the meetings lasting 4-6 hours in total. Being a mentor is quite an unusual experience, and often an unforgettable one, with both parties gaining from their meetings. Faced with another person’s problems and offering them support, the mentor can learn a thing or two about themselves and become more aware of their skills and abilities.

At information meetings it is often asked why anyone would want to take part in the programme as a mentor without receiving any payment for doing so. True, no money is involved: as terms, mentorship and remuneration simply don’t go together.  However, people’s experiences of mentor programmes to date confirm that not only the mentee gets a push from taking part, but also the mentor. They have to learn to ask the right questions at the right time, to be a very good listener and to provide constructive feedback. All of this is an art that requires practice before it can be mastered. In order to prepare mentors for the programme, we offer a two-day training course.

What kind of problems does participating in the programme solve?

Does the programme help the mentees find appropriate work? Why should I take part? What do I get after completing the programme? These are the sorts of questions that were put to our project manager at the information days held in Tallinn and Narva in February. Since mentorship as a form of work supporting the unemployed and promoting integration is a new one, such questions are understandable.

No, the programme does not set itself the task of finding work for the participants. Instead, we contribute to non-formal learning, which helps bring new ideas and skills to the fore outside of a standard study environment. This forms part of lifelong learning for adults. During the programme the participants get the chance to talk about the problems that arise when looking for work and to obtain constructive feedback. The pace of life today means we often have very little chance to talk about and thereby understand why we run into the same difficulties time and again. As part of the programme you can broaden your circle of acquaintances and boost your self-confidence and self-esteem when looking for work.

It is important to understand that your mentor cannot do anything on your behalf or offer you ready-made solutions – but they can give you the push you need and the impetus to ask yourself important questions.

Is there anyone the programme is unsuited to?

The programme will prove useful for those who lead an active life but encounter difficulties in looking for work. Employers like people with a get-up-and-go attitude to life – not those who sit around and wait for job offers to fall in their laps. As such, the programme criteria require those taking part to themselves be active.

TEMP is unsuited to anyone who is convinced that nothing depends on them or those around them. Nor is it suited to those who dismiss non-formal methods of learning.

How do I go about taking part?

Applications should be e-mailed to Please specify whether you wish to participate as a mentor or mentee. Don’t forget to include your name, age and contact details. The deadline for applications is 15 April.

For more detailed information, get in touch with programme coordinators Olga Štšeglova and Julia Kashina on 517 2034.

Olga Štšeglova | Coordinator, TEMP Mentor Programme