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 Partnership for Vocational Activisation of Residents of Post-military Territories
Project number A0680

Project description

The objective of the Development Partnership - established on initiative of the "FAR" Foundation for the Occupational Integration of Ex-servicemen - is to establish conditions that may improve the occupational and social status of people who are in danger of exclusion following the liquidation of military units.

Military units were often the main or at least important employer. Their liquidation is associated with dramatic change in socio-occupational status of people who have been in one or another way associated with their operations. This is true for ex-servicemen, their family members, civilians working for the unit and local business and institutions who have largely relied on the existence of a military garrison. Projects undertaken so far failed to improve the occupational status of affected people. Outplacement services, as proposed by the military, are available to ex-servicemen for 36 months, while units under the Project had been dissolved 5 years ago. Moreover, complex formal and legal reasons prevent ex-servicemen from entering the labour market. They are not eligible for assistance provided to the unemployed because they were awarded full or partial retirement benefits. They are ineligible for the unemployed or job seeker status. Since they have been granted retirement benefits, the local community often perceives them as a privileged group,
while ex-servicemen themselves feel rejected and useless. They complain for being discriminated by employers on the civilian labour market.

A long-term unemployment is associated with significant impoverishment of the entire family, which most often is a traditional one with non-working wife responsible for household management. Also children are affected by lack of funds for development of interests and continued education.

The communities of former military units are small and enclosed. They often live in neighbourhoods that are perceived as separate ones. Today they are falling into civilizational neglect. Considering general apathy, helplessness and discouragement, the communities in question are in danger of marginalization, dysfunctions and social exclusion. Therefore, it is vital to change job-related attitudes, stimulate beneficiaries' activity and promote them as competent employees.

Project beneficiaries are 150 persons divided into three groups: ex-servicemen and their family members, civilian staff of military units and providers of services to the military. The Project will be implemented in Lubuskie Voivodship, Żagań, Żary and Krosno Poviats. Pilot project will involve the building of a support system and testing the model approach to cooperation and information sharing by various social partners. Employment and Enterprise Promotion Centres will be established along with Cooperation and Information Sharing Forums. The Centres will gather labour market data and develop analytical reports. Beneficiaries will provided there with psychologist's assistance, job counselling and agency services, while the Forums will serve as meeting ground for various institutions and organisations - businessmen, labour offices and training providers - to discuss market needs, development trends and available training courses. The Centres will focus on integrative activities, report problem areas and obstacles, while Forums will provide feedback and share comments on possible performance improvements. In addition, Intersectoral Support Groups will be established in the form of regular meetings of the beneficiaries, representatives of non-government organisations and involved businessmen. An Internet portal and dedicated "Adviser" computer software, as developed under the Project for contacting job seekers with potential employers, will help to streamline cooperation and information sharing.

A model system of support and counselling methods aligned with beneficiaries' and labour market expectations will be the key outcomes of the Project. In order for the assistance to be effective and enhancing job finding opportunities, it must be provided on an individualised basis. Beneficiaries participating in the Project will have a chance for changing their attitude, regaining self-reliance and overcoming passivity. Activities delivered by skilled instructors will
enable the beneficiaries to identify their strengths and weaknesses and unveil potential capacity. Psychological support will be provided under the Project to the entire families in an attempt to prevent the effects of long-term unemployment: dysfunctions, learned helplessness and passivity. Vocational training courses will reflect beneficiaries' capacity and needs reported by employers. All the participants will be closely observed by advisers who may help them to make the decision on retraining or self-employment. Those expressing interest in starting their own business will follow a separate business training module, while other participants will actively seek a job taking advantage of support provided by advisers and the Centre. Ex-servicemen wives will have "Butterfly Academy" at their disposal. Sessions delivered by the Academy will help them to regain self-esteem and enter the labour market. Workshops for children are intended to promote their pro-active attitudes and discover areas of interest. Former civilian staff members will attend events involving a balance of capacities, improvement of skills and motivation to adopt pro-active attitudes.

Dissemination will include all the obtained and tested outcomes, in particular model approach to the creation of cooperation and information exchange forums. The objective is to ensure that the tested method of providing ex-servicemen with access to the civilian labour market is replicable by interested institutions. There will be also implemented an awareness campaign intended to change oversimplified perception of the beneficiaries in the society.