The Restart model is a ten week employability programme that offers training and support to unemployed adults. The programme consists of a combination of: group based learning, individual coaching and mentoring, personalised advice and information sessions, and a work experience placement with an employer.

Unique in its approach, it was originally developed for use with lone parents and through the successful European delivery of the model it has now been successfully transferred to 7 EU countries. It has proven to be highly adaptable and based on this success Restart 3 will further extend Restart by adapting it for use with other groups at high risk of social exclusion and groups facing obstacles to the labour market across the EU.

Restart was originally developed by an EQUAL Development Partnership in NI which benefited from the expertise of the Department for Employment and Learning, the University of Ulster, GEMS (an employment matching service) and Gingerbread NI.  The Restart model is innovative in its student centred approach, it focuses on providing individuals who face barriers to (re)entering the labour market with empowerment, understanding the need to promote confidence and self-esteem while providing a respectful environment and the opportunity to address specific barriers such as lack of transport, lack of childcare, the need to gain work experience, or concerns about personal finances.

The Restart programme is accredited by OCN/OCR at Level 2 and was designed by experienced professionals with clear certification methods and learning outcomes. Although it can difficult to transfer an accredited programme to other European countries (due to the differences in qualification structure) Possibilities is dedicated to improving the attractiveness and suitability of the programme on a European level by involving stakeholders in each delivery country in Europe and lining its EU project to ECVET. This has proven a successful method in the Restart 2 EU Project as the German partner (Wisamar) was able to accredit the Restart programme in their country. In addition, even where the Restart programme has been delivered and not accredited the impact of the project has remained as strong, and partners are encouraged to continue to deliver the programme in their country.

The design of the Restart programme incorporated extensive input from beneficiaries themselves. Policy advice and research input from UU and the involvement of DEL ensured the all-important ‘fit’ with mainstream policy and provision. The decision to share the Restart model and programme has the full support of all members of the previous EQUAL DP who remain involved with the project and fully support any commercialisation through Possibilities NI. The project also presents invaluable learning opportunities for the staff involved. By addressing the barriers and challenges faced by the projects target groups Restart 3 aims to enable vulnerable EU citizens to better their chances and opportunities for the future, working towards education, training, participation in the labour market, and active citizenship in European society so that they can participate in and benefit fully from the outcomes of strategies such as Europe 2020.

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