New project aims at boosting self-confidence of the labour force

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The civic organisation Promethea has just launched a new project aimed at boosting the self-confidence of the Czech nation, especially those in the labour force. The project supports the prevention of unemployment, the development of human resources, and integration into the labour market. It is funded from the budgets of both the state and the City of Prague as well as the European Social Fund.

"There are several target groups - the unemployed, mothers who return to work after having been on maternity leave, people who are striving to be more confident at work or at home, and students who are looking for their first job and have to prepare for their job interview."

...says Ondrej Sedlacek of Promethea, adding that the two-year programme offers six cycles of free seminars that focus on self-confidence from different angles...

"The first seminar is about health and self-confidence and about creating your own image and believing in yourself. The second seminar will be about self-confidence from the view of psychologists. The third seminar is about communication and how it can influence your self-confidence. The fourth seminar will be about cultural, social, and political reviews, and some history to show how your knowledge can enhance your self-confidence. The fifth seminar will be about image, etiquette, your behaviour and self-presentation in different situations. The sixth seminar is about relaxation and a healthy life-style. And, the seventh seminar is a little bit unique as it will be combined of all the other seminars and there will also be a psychiatrist who will define self-confidence."

Venda Vanickova is one of the lecturers:

"I teach about image, about style, about the perfect outfit but you have to feel it inside and be authentic. That is the most important information that the people who attend this seminar need to take with them. People ask questions and are interested in many things such as colour coordinating and how to use different styles in different situations they find themselves in during the day and throughout their life. I give them examples, show them pictures, symbols, and show examples on the attendants."

You told me earlier that it doesn't cost much to create your own image...

"Yes, I think that image is not about money. It is about the priorities of life of a concrete personality. Everyone is special and everyone wants to present the best of his/her personality. This is much more important than the quality of what you wear or how much it costs."

Dana was among the four dozen people who took part in the first seminar...

"I was very happy that this seminar took place. I think it is very good that it is for free and that many people can attend it and learn new things."

What was your overall impression of that seminar that you went to?

"It was very interesting. The teachers had a lot of interesting ideas how to make life better. But I would prefer to have the seminar much more interactive so that I have much more practical knowledge that I can use in the future, in life."

For the woman behind the project, Hana Seyckova, such an initiative is long overdue in the Czech Republic:

"From a historic point of view, we were constantly being tread on by someone. Our more recent communist past is one that we all remember very clearly; these memories are still deeply rooted in us. At home we were allowed to say one thing while at school or in public we had to say something different. So people were afraid to express themselves and say what they felt, because they didn't know whether they were being monitored, whether it could affect their family. This is what we have inherited from those forty years. We all know of someone who was imprisoned and so on. So our seminars can help people find themselves, find their feet."

Law student Michal Hrusik believes far too little emphasis is put on the importance of assertiveness and self-awareness. As a result, young Czechs are not ambitious:

"The main difference between the post-communist countries and countries like Ireland, the UK, or Australia, I think lies in the problem that the students' initiative - both at high school and university - is not very high, which means that they spend four or five years going to a pub and getting a job and that's all their life entails. They are simply not interested in anything else. In the western countries, the situation is much different. These extra-curriculum activities are part of the study programme there and they want to work on themselves and achieve something in the future, speak in a good manner."

While a growing number of young Czechs is trying to become more assertive, course organiser Hana Seyckova says it could take a couple of decades to reverse the negative influence of the communist past.

"The problem is mainly rooted among older groups of people, but they still pass this insecurity on to their children by raising them the way they were raised, so at least one or two more generations will be affected. By giving people advice on how to combat their insecurities and stress and how to find solutions in various situations, we will achieve a positive result."

This year, the seminars are taking place at the Prague City Library. They are free of charge and open to all. If you speak Czech and are interested in attending, it is advisable that you register first. You can find more information on the official website www.promethea.cz.