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 Swiss Watch
Project number A0468

Project description

The objective of the Partnership established by the German and Polish "Hope" Foundation in Szamotuły jointly with key local labour market partners is to work out an effective method for preventing social exclusion of young unemployed people (aged 25 or less) with secondary education.

Surveys carried out under Activity 1 served as a basis for the development of an in-depth study of the local labour market capacity and unemployment structure in the poviat. The rate of unemployment has been growing dramatically year after year and those aged 25 or less account for 37% of registered unemployed people. Each year, new high and vocational school graduates are registering with the labour office. They face an extremely difficult situation: they have no previous employment history, while skills they learned at school are obsolete or in mismatch with employers' expectations. They are not eligible for studies at state-owned universities due to poor grades, while paid postgraduate studies are inaccessible to them for lack of funds. Entering the labour market with unemployed status is discouraging them and may result in permanent dependence on welfare institutions. Based on Labour Office data, the Partnership has identified active labour market sectors (i.e. in demand of labour force) and long-term unemployment risk areas.

Registered young unemployed people (aged 25 or younger) with secondary education and local employers will benefit from the Project. Hundred young people (50 women and 50 men) and 53 employers will participate in the Project. Final beneficiaries (the unemployed) have been selected using a recruitment procedure that allowed for identification of the neediest groups - those in real danger of exclusion due to poverty, place of residence (villages and small towns) and a long period of unsuccessful job seeking. Employers have joined the Project under the awareness campaign. Project promoters realised that employers, who are aware of their responsibilities towards the local community, have to cope with staff hiring costs. Therefore, a refund of payroll costs was offered to them for the period of vocational training of their new workers, along with a workplace fitting out subsidy. Employers helped to identify the jobs that are the most sought after in the local labour market.

The participation in the Project is intended to provide the beneficiaries with jobs and access to up-to-date education, but the key objective is to ensure a lasting improvement in their standard of living and help them to gain self-reliance, efficiency and pro-active attitudes. Specific needs reported by the employers will be taken into consideration so that training in particular jobs is offered. The pilot project will help to work out new and improve existing mechanisms of cooperation between unemployment prevention institutions. The Partnership will establish the poviat youth employment forum as a platform for sharing information, comments and ideas.

Training component design is based on a survey and review of comments by businessmen who have expressed interest in cooperation. A modern vocational training model was developed, involving a series of two-year extramural learning. Four classes were formed to follow a dedicated job teaching curriculum, as approved by the Superintendent's Office. In addition, the beneficiaries will be given training in key areas of community life, as well as an opportunity to improve their hands-on skills at dedicated job stands. Thanks to a combination of training in theory and handson skills, the effectiveness of undertaken activities will be monitored on an ongoing basis, while taking advantage of comments by lecturers and employers.

The outcomes of these activities will manifest themselves on several levels. Young people will get their first job so that their self-esteem and motivation is enhanced, making them more competitive on the open labour market as candidates with previous employment history. Employers will provide their inputs to the efforts of poviat employment institutions, while gaining reputation of community-minded businessmen. Welfare institutions hope to see the number of their protégés dwindling.

The outcomes of the programmes and lessons learned from their implementation will be disseminated. The Partnership is planning to deliver its reports to those institutions that are in position to introduce a package of changes in legislation intended to ensure a more flexible education in line with actual market needs. A model of integrated impact on those in risk of exclusion, headed "Work - Vocational Education - Training", will be another outcome of the Project.

All those interested in social exclusion and unemployment issues will have an opportunity to monitor the progress of the Project in the Internet and possibly in mass media.