MATECHEF – AN INTERCULTURAL GASTRONOMY
In partnership with: CIES Onlus (Centro Informazione ed Educazione allo Sviluppo)
Matching supply and demand in the catering industry to help disadvantaged young people gain a foothold in the labour market.
Much hope is placed in the power of the younger generations to shape the future. In a world characterized by recession in which young people are four times more likely to be unemployed, the potential to fulfil this promise is being severely tested.
Among the many barriers to stable employment, there are also the daily struggles with discrimination, economic marginalization and social exclusion faced by the rising numbers of immigrant youth. Italy is at the forefront of one of the most significant influxes of migrants and refugees in history and Rome’s Esquilino neighbourhood is a symbol of the growing multi-ethnicity of Italian society: 33% of its total population are foreign nationals. Many are young people and the most likely to be out of education, employment or training.
Facing the same difficulties as their Italian peers, migrants must also wrestle with the sense of isolation that results from reconciling family origins with settlement country culture. This is exacerbated by a lack of understanding and discrimination in wider society. Foreign nationals will often fall out of mainstream education, or have already suspended it when escaping their home country, leaving them with a qualification deficit and locked out of opportunity. Pushed to the margins of society and with few places to forge support networks, the potential for deviant behaviour is increased.
Equal access to gainful employment is essential to helping young people, especially those from immigrant backgrounds, make a fresh new start in life.
Young people at risk of social exclusion will be helped to acquire specific skills they can spend in the labour market.
Over the course of two years, sixty young people aged 16 to 25, 40 of whom from an immigration background, will be selected to take part in a sustainable social enterprise called MaTeChef. Working in parallel with the MaTeMu youth centre in Rome’s Esquilino neighbourhood, the social bistro will offer a training and social hub, drawing on the centres long-standing links with social services and its experience in breaking down the barriers faced by young people and migrants.
The bistro itself will serve organic and fair trade produce with both local and multiethnic influences in a busy part of Rome. Project beneficiaries will each attend 90 hours of professional catering courses over a period of three months before embarking on job experience in the bistro. A living wage will be paid for the 100-hours on-the-job training, allowing trainees to earn while honing the knowledge and skills gained during training. This will benefit not only their own self-confidence and job marketability, but also provide reassurance and financial support for their families. Moreover, as qualified apprentices, they will represent a valuable low-cost resource for the 24 small businesses waiting to host them on completion of their training.
Throughout the project, the trainees will receive tutoring and support from the wider network of businesses, trade associations, cooperatives and local institutions that MaTeMu has built up. The long-term objective of matching qualified young people with the demands of local enterprises will be furthered by a launch event and material distributed to all major stakeholders across society, who will be invited to take part in a discussion forum hosted on the project website and social media pages.