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 „First Shift” Regional Partnership for Vocational Activation of People Disadvantaged in the Labour Market
Project number A0250

Project description

The objective of the Partnership is to create a working model for counteracting labour market inequalities arising from social and economic patterns of the region. Surveys carried out under Activity 1 helped to firm up the scope of work to be completed under Activity 2. Three key factors behind occurrence of labour market inequalities in the Silesian Region have been identified. Long-term job finding problems are primarily dependent on gender, age and education profile (insufficient or inadequate for the job). According to statistics, employers are reluctant to hire women, although they are better educated than men. This is particularly true for young women (as potential maternity and parental leave users) and those of pre-retirement age (due to obsolete
skills). Age is the second factor. Almost 50% of the registered unemployed are young people aged 34 or younger, 25% of them are 24 or less years old. They are offered only poorly paid casual jobs that do not provide skills improvement opportunities or experience, as required by employers. Education is the third factor: workers with vocational education below junior high level are not in demand on the labour market. The latter factor is crucial for the regional labour market. For quite a long time coal mining and steel industry plants had been able to employ any number of workers with vocational education or partly skilled workers.

A survey of potential beneficiaries revealed that continuing job finding failures discourage them from making more attempts, undermine their belief in themselves and strengthen their reliance on external aid. Welfare organisations provide them with ad-hoc aid but fail to offer any meaningful solutions that would encourage them to undertake pro-active job finding efforts. Final beneficiaries of the Project are 150 long-term unemployed people who face permanent social exclusion. Men and women belonging to various age groups (youth, middle and pre-retirement age) and having skills that preclude them finding a job (primary or vocational education level) have been selected to the Project.

The outcomes of the Project will involve development and testing of a model for occupational integration of people who have been jobless for a long time due to their gender, age and education level. Training courses are intended to improve their education and primarily to adapt their skills to the requirements of a modern labour market. At the same time the Project will counteract employers' prejudice against workers with a short previous employment history. On-the-job training will be promoted. Projection of employment trends in the Silesian Province (under pilot project) will improve model functionality.

The Partnership developed a development path which is alternative to the traditional classroom-based training approach. Beneficiaries are to learn job secrets on the site, coached by a business owner (mentor). This pro-active approach to training, focused on specific tasks rather than theory, is expected to provide trainees with hands-on experience they badly need.

The Project will be implemented in three groups. A small number of groups is expected to facilitate monitoring of activities. All the beneficiaries will be guided by a job advisor. Career path is based on the "training-placement-job" pattern. Thanks to on-the-site placement the beneficiaries will have an opportunity to learn a new job, while gaining necessary practical experience, so that they are better prepared to finding a job (the best of them may be offered a job by their coach/tutor). The series of training events and placements will be confirmed by state examination. Apprentice certificate will attest to the skills held and pave the way to master craftsman's certificate. The participants will be provided with psychologist's support to enhance their self-esteem and motivation.

The Partnership established international Vocational Education Network - VENet, a working (also on-line) platform for sharing know-how with organisations expressing interest in this approach to continuous education.

All interested persons will have access to the outcomes of the Partnership. New approaches to cooperation between market players (employers, trade unions, guilds, craft cooperatives, public institutions, enterprises and training providers), new tools and materials will be disseminated along with teaching curricula prepared by experienced teachers and tailored to individual work with the unemployed. The new career path will be promoted using interactive website of the Project, information newsletter, articles published by industry press media and regional/local broadcasts. Domestic and international press conferences will promote good practice and help to assess on an ongoing basis problem solving effectiveness and progress in application of basic
tenets of the Partnership. All operations - from initial status diagnosis and identification of needs, through implementation to actual outcomes - will be described in the final report.