Five years ago, Jacques Neyns decided that he wanted to spread his knowledge and use of project management to those who may find it beneficial to their lives. “But how and who?” he thought. Through different connections, Jacques came across the organization VDAB, a public employment service and one of the largest job sites in Belgium. VDAB stands for Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding in Dutch, which translates to Flemish Employment and Vocational Training. What started as a passion project has grown over the years into a successful partnership among the PMI Belgium Chapter and VDAB, with plans to helping build individuals’ skill sets through project management for years to come.
Project management skills are essential in any job role, and that is what Jacques observed while working in software development for pharmaceuticals some time ago. It was then that he took on the project management needs of his company and soon found PMI. Jacques has been an active member of PMI for 11 years, and is an active volunteer as the PMIEF/PMI Chapter Liaison for the PMI Belgium Chapter.
“Project management will teach you how to work independently as well as in a group, and to think ahead,” explains Jacques, which is why one of his main goals is to implement project management in middle schools and train people at a young age. In addition to this goal, he is interested in spreading project management training to those looking for work opportunities, and thus developed the partnership with VDAB.
VDAB is a well-known organization in Belgium that assists those who are unemployed in building fresh skill sets and finding new jobs. Jacques reached out to VDAB to offer project management training courses and, two weeks later, a plan and agreement were set. The initial conversation about the training began in May. By September, the first official training was ready to be conducted. The first training session was a remarkable success, with 22 registrants and 100 percent attendance for all three parts of the session. It was evident right away that this was something that VDAB would want to continue.
The project management training at VDAB is available at no cost to participants, and includes three evening sessions. Jacques was initially skeptical as to whether individuals would show up after having other obligations during the day, but each day the full list of trainees arrived proving their dedication and interest in the training. The sessions last about three hours each day, and consist of developing project plans, group interaction, time scheduling and management, and creating projects. After completion, the session participants receive a certificate and are able to include this accomplishment on their cover letters and/or résumés. Initially, the training was directed toward young adults just starting their careers, but was later opened to people in all stages of their careers, with different experiences and education levels. It’s also been helpful for people who have been working in their careers for many years, but who may need to brush up on new industry trends and skills. Jacques shared a success story that really stood out for him. One week after attending the project management training session, an individual was offered a project manager assistant role with the help of an expanded résumé that included the project management training session. With the positive feedback and successful outcomes, the chapter and VDAB collaboration will surely last for years to come.
What started as a passion project idea for Jacques has grown into a five-year collaboration with two training sessions being conducted each year and nearly 900 individuals trained. The positive relationship and work among the chapter and VDAB has been the ultimate achievement, but there’s always more to do. Jacques’ goal is to expand the project management training among job seekers to not just Belgium, but all over Europe. If you want to help make this a possibility, consider leveraging a PMIEF no-cost digital resource to get started. In the meantime, Jacques will continue to enhance the capabilities and skill sets of job seekers, one project management training session at a time.