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 ”Animator” Partnership for Employability
Project number A0608

Project description

The Development Partnership was established with a view in developing and testing modern and effective occupational integration methods that would allow those in danger of marginalization and exclusion to enter the labour market under specific conditions of the Podkarpacki Region.

Activity 1 involved an in-depth study of conditions prevailing in the regional labour market. The study included both demographic and socio-legal factors. The geographic range of Partnership's operations - Tarnobrzeg, Bieszczady and Rzeszów Poviats - is a predominantly rural and underfunded area, where the level of wellbeing is among the lowest in Poland. Due to a low level of enterprise and capital investment, few job positions are created, while predominantly small local enterprises focus on the local market of a poor absorptive capacity. Due to a low income, the local residents are doomed to stagnation and a lack of development outlook. Long-term unemployment, affecting primarily young people, is a huge social problem. As much as 20% of the region's population are welfare recipients.

The Development Partnership feels that the existing labour market facilities fail to perform as expected. There is a coordination gap between the system of education and labour market requirements. An ineffectiveness of the efforts by various institutions is due to mistakes made at information gathering stage: they tend to develop a training offer that fails to meet the needs of the unemployed and potential employers.

Survey results have indicated that it is necessary to collect available labour market information (training needs, demand for particular trades and services, enterprise development trends) and establish a forum of dialogue on the introduction of a system that would help to coordinate activities intended to integrate the unemployed and improve their skills. These findings will be complemented by professional surveys of hidden unemployment, career plans of secondary and vocational school graduates and employers' needs and expectations, as carried out under Activity 2. They will help to firm up and structure the offer of occupational integration so that it is capable of increasing the chance of introducing system changes in the local labour market.

Project beneficiaries are residents of three poviats that are representative for areas diversified in terms of socio-economic patterns. The Tarnobrzeg Poviat is a post-industrial area, the Bieszczady Poviat is a post-state farm area, while the Rzeszów Poviat is a traditional rural area. Persons who are particularly exposed to the risk of inequality in labour market access and exclusion have been selected to the Project: the disabled, unemployed women aged 25 to 34 years, jobless graduates, men under 45 years of age and other individuals selected throughout the market analysis process. In every poviat, a group of 20 participants each will work under the leadership of animator. The profession of animator and related methods of work with beneficiaries are an innovative factor compared to the existing approaches. Prior to commencement of work, animators will follow a 4-month training tailored to specific problems of the target group of beneficiaries and a 2-month internship hosted by independent institutions. The animator will be responsible for identification of beneficiary's predispositions, development of his/her vocational skills based on adequate set of training events and for collecting information about available job offers. Overall success of the Project, i.e. entering of beneficiaries to the labour market, will depend on animator's performance. Therefore, personality and qualification criteria for candidate animators have been clearly defined. On the other hand, the quality of Project outcomes will be a test for this job as an innovation that can be successfully applied elsewhere.

The beneficiaries will participate in workshops intended to ensure their occupational integration, increase their mobility and improve social skills. They will learn how to write applications, acquire key skills and improve their self-assessment. Vocational training courses will enable them to acquire new or improve existing skills. Driver's license, language and computer courses are expected to enhance their labour market competitiveness. A separate module will focus on starting a new business and self-employment promotion. Those beneficiaries who wish to start their own business will be provided with counselling services.

In addition, the Development Partnership promotes reconciliation of professional career with children or dependent care, which will be provided under the Project to enable the caretaker (usually a woman) to follow the proposed training.

Research activities of the Partnership will result in comprehensive study of unemployment issues - a significant contribution to the knowledge and skills of organisations involved in occupational integration of the unemployed, so that they are able to align their activities with market conditions and expectations of potential recipients. A model of animator's work with groups running the highest risk of exclusion will be developed as a system outcome ready for application by other institutions and organisations.

Dissemination activities will be targeted at labour market institutions (thus helping to promote good practice) and employers' associations (to promote the idea of socially responsible business).