In the course of my Communications Trainer Training I had the opportunity to work for an organisation in Vienna that supports unemployed people. Here were people who had lost hope, given up, and, admittedly, some who just did not want to work. It was fascinating to be on the giving end, to motivate, encourage, coach all these people who I related to so easily. There was the Italian man who knew he was worth more than what he was being offered – he needed to come down a notch to learn to approach his prospective employers with respect, dignity and humility. There was the lady mechanic who took such a liking to me that she made me a little wooden treasure chest and presented me with a portrait of myself on my motor-cycle in my teens. There was the single father with a child in kindergarten who didn’t care what work he did, he just wanted to be there for his daughter. There was the former airport employee who was looking for reorientation in the changed labour market. There was the qualified lawyer who was angry at the world for not recognising his talents having not yet proven himself in stable employment. There was the African lady who actually wanted to return to England but first needed to get a job in Austria to pay her way.
All these people and another group of long term unemployed people who were going through “re-activation”, a term used to motivate and encourage people who have lost not only their job, but their hope and perspectives in the changed economic climate.
I was proud to be able to share my own story with them. I got my first job in the Austrian labour market at the age of 45 after working from home for ten years while managing household and children. Of course during this time I kept myself up-to-date listening to Blue Danube Radio and learning the current computer programmes which were being requested for the jobs advertised. I could not take: “My life is over, I’m too old, nobody wants me at 32” from the young mother who had not found her dream job (yet).