Network A Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone.
Project name Freedom for Employment
Project number A0152

Project description

Since its inception, the objective of the Partnership: to elaborate system solutions for occupational reintegration of incarcerated persons, was considered as going beyond the scope of penitentiary-related institutions or post-penitentiary assistance organisations. Although these institutions and organisations are active members of the Partnership, the Project is administrated by Polish Foundation for Opportunities Industrialisation Centres (OIC Poland), while business/regional development organisations and vocational training providers are among the leading partners.

Studies carried out under Activity 1 helped to identify barriers that prevent ex-convicts from re-entering the employment market. Employers argued that although they agree with the statement that work is important for rehabilitation, they are unwilling to employ incarcerated people because convicts are considered bad workers. The public perception of employing convicts or ex-convicts is strongly affected by prejudice, according to which conviction is a stigma rather than a consequence of specific actions. The studies also revealed that existing institutions and organisations involved in these issues are using different tools and diagnosing methods, while offering various types of support. A lack of common methodologies, clear procedures and flow
of information prevented them from firming up their activities, merge initiatives, etc.

The Partnership is to work out a comprehensive method of rehabilitation combined with addiction therapy intended to enable the beneficiaries to find a job. Final beneficiaries are 120 convicts. Due to the impact of their environment, previous decisions and existing situation, they have a low educational status. They have little or no previous employment history and are lacking on-the-job experience and skills. They are unaware of their own predispositions, strengths or skills. While in prison, they are unlikely to find any positive role models. Upon release, they lack activity, mobility and motivation to adjust themselves to the requirements of the labour market. As a result of incarceration, their skills become obsolete and labour market access is difficult due to a lack of computer literacy.

Social stigmatization of ex-convicts prevents them from finding a job; long-term joblessness is likely to lead to marginalisation, exclusion and, consequently, to relapse into crime. Strongly motivated beneficiaries wishing to attend the sessions have been selected to the Project. Indirect
beneficiaries of the Project are penitentiary educators, psychologists, probation officers, addiction therapists, labour office advisors and staff members (100 persons).

The system of support to convicts in their occupational reintegration is to be designed as a comprehensive solution. On the level of work with those tutored, training in personal development will be combined with vocational training and counselling. On the institutional level, the Partnership is planning to develop a model for integration of operations by providers of assistance to convicts and ex-convicts.

The work with those tutored will be documented and based on a tailored approach. At first,
strengths and vocational predispositions will be identified for subsequent development of individual Action Plans. The file of each convict will include certificates of all training courses, consultation notes and a description of personality traits and vocational predispositions. The Project will involve training in pro-active job seeking methods, vocational training in the following trades: storehouse keeper with fork-lift operator's certificate, construction worker (painter, plasterer, bricklayer, paver, and welder), office/administration worker; and training courses in information technology and self-employment. Overall success of the Project will depend on an improvement in skills of those working with convicts. All tutors/coaches will be provided with necessary training and postgraduate courses in occupational reintegration of those tutored, cooperation with employers' associations, communication with convicts, job counselling and individualised Action Plan methodology.

Occupation integration centres will be established under the Project in Lublin and Zamość. Their staff will provide information about available training options and benefit entitlements. In addition, they will help the beneficiaries to write CV, letters of motivation and sustain contact with employers. The Partnership will publish two information leaflets: one with useful addresses and hints for the convicts, while the other one will describe benefits to potential employers from hiring ex-convicts.Meetings hosted by international HIDAK Partnership will encourage experience sharing and joint elaboration of new methods. HIDAK partners are specialists in personal support; work with persons convicted on several counts and incarcerated women.

Information about Project progress, benefits arising therefrom (security improvements, a reduction in central budget expenditures) and readily available methodology will be disseminated internally within organisational structures of all Partners and in specialised press articles. The idea of occupational rehabilitation will be promoted among local community, employers, local governments, labour offices, welfare institutions and non-government organizations using press articles, electronic media, at domestic and international conferences and in the final report.