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 Roma in the Labour Market
Project number A0567

Project description

The objective of the Development Partnership is to enhance occupational and social status of the Roma, a community particularly exposed to the risk of joblessness.

A survey carried out under Activity 1 has confirmed that chronic unemployment of the Roma community has strong historic roots. Compelled to settle in the mid 20th century, hitherto wandering Roma groups faced a dramatic cultural shock involving, among other things, a decline in traditional sources of income. In the conditions of fast growing industry, unskilled labour was in high demand. Nevertheless, this contributed to the decline of traditional self-sufficiency of the community and affected also permanently settled Roma groups.

The transition to a market-oriented economy resulted in the collapse of a number of enterprises employing poorly skilled workers, such as the Romas. In fact, this community which was never assimilated, while losing traditional subsistence skills and being traditionally unwilling to acquire knowledge and skills highly valued by the society of today, was doomed to marginalisation or even exclusion. The situation is aggravated by strongly accentuated separateness of the group and a deeply rooted stereotype of the Roma people as unwilling to adopt a way of life consistent with the standards of the society. As a result, the Roma community is affected by most dramatic consequences of unemployment and related processes, such as inherited poverty, social exclusion or homelessness. Even creative and active individuals are unable to overcome internal (lack of knowledge, poor skills and legal illiteracy) and external (social stigmatization) barriers that prevent them from using their full potential.

So far, the activities designed to improve occupational status of Roma people and their integration have been delivered on an ad-hoc basis. They were not based on an investigation of existing status and failed to address specific features of the community, while potential beneficiaries were not involved at project inception stage.

The Development Partnership will carry out extensive surveys of all Roma communities living in Poland. Survey results are expected to allow for an in-depth diagnosis of the status of particular communities, taking into account the diversity of Roma population and the impact of local social context. Based on materials collected under the surveys, a model of activities will be worked out to address actual needs of the community and promote a real change in occupational and, consequently, living quality status. A pilot project will be delivered in Tatra and Oświęcim Poviats,
Prudnik and Gliwice.

Besides survey activities, the Development Partnership will provide support to selected final beneficiaries: 100 unemployed people registered with labour office and declaring the will to participate in the planned educational activities. They will have an opportunity to attend vocational training events and courses preparing them for open labour market activities, as well as for starting their own business. Women selected to the Project will follow a separate block of sessions helping them to cope with traditional Roma reluctance to occupational activity and empowerment of women. Meetings will focus on equal opportunities of the two genres, including the legal context. Psychological workshops and training events will be held. Vocational training courses for women are intended to enhance their job finding opportunities, but also to enable them to combine employment with household management.

Based on experience shared by the Slovakian partner, Roma Job Agency will be established to ensure cooperation with labour offices/agencies and Roma organisations. The Agency will host meetings with potential employers and provide job counselling to individual clients, considering their needs and capabilities. They will be given advice on follow-up training or career planning. To facilitate Romas' entry to the labour market, they will be employed at public works in Prudnik and the Partnership will contribute to the building of the Roma settlement - a planned tourist project in the Tatra Poviat.

Roma Art Agency will be another establishment intended to promote the Roma culture and help them to find a job. The concept of the Agency and its operating standards are modelled on a Czech partner. The Agency will cater for the demand for Roma folklore, support performers, promote their employment and facilitate their artistic development.

In order to help the beneficiaries to take advantage of the educational offer, the Partnership is planning to publish a directory with a list of training events, courses, available jobs and standard application documents. Roma consultants, supported by the elders, will be responsible for flow of information between the participants, organisations and the community.

The Development Partnership is intending to create a model occupational and social integration system for the Roma, based on field part of the Project and in-depth research studies. The system would be readily available for implementation beyond the Project site.

Extensive coverage of Roma problems and their employment initiatives will help to change public attitudes towards that community, while beneficiaries' cooperation with partners other than Roma community will promote the development of social dialogue scene.