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 Intercultural Centre of Vocational Adaptation of Immigrants and Refugees
Project number A0692

Project description

The Development Partnership was established to counteract social exclusion of people coming to Poland from countries of different culture - immigrants, refugees and repatriates - by combating discrimination and helping them to enter the labour market. This objective is to be achieved by development of procedures, strategies and programmes encouraging social and occupational integration of migrants within Polish labour market.

According to available surveys, immigrants and refugees face discrimination in Poland's labour market. Although the number of migrants has continued to grow over the past years, comprehensive programmes for their integration with occupational and social activities are still to be developed in Poland. Foreigners find employment in niche sectors of the labour market or accept poorly paid jobs for which they are overqualified. In a majority of labour market institutions employees with a different cultural background are absent. Several factors have contributed to this situation: legal barriers, inefficient tax system, ethnic prejudices or employers' unwillingness to form multicultural teams. Migrants themselves are unprepared for unassisted performance on an unknown labour market and are unaware of their rights and procedures followed by Polish assistance institutions. Moreover, they have to cope with a language they don't know and alien culture. This is combined with inadequate skills of immigrants (e.g. unfamiliarity with information and communication technologies or lack of knowledge on how to improve vocational skills). Inadequate capacity of Polish job agencies and social services providing support to migrants is another serious obstacle.

According to a survey carried out among migrants (Vietnamese, Chechen refugees, Iraqis and repatriates from the former Soviet Union), the beneficiaries expect system changes, an improvement in Poland's social policies towards people of a different culture and adjustment of regulations. Those interviewed frequently mentioned the need for a more friendly vocational skill updating and certification procedures. They declared willingness to attend easily accessible short-term courses intended to facilitate their labour market adaptation. It is also necessary to launch activities that will promote a positive image of migrants among Poles. In order for migrants to join social and occupational life in Poland, intercultural skills of social works have to be enhanced, along with introduction of a system of advice and information for those settling in Poland.

The Project of Multicultural Occupational Adaptation Centre was designed to meet these needs.

The beneficiaries are 962 refugees, repatriates and immigrants (481 women and 481 men) recruited in cooperation with ethnic minority organisations over the Internet and press announcements published in several languages. They are to be direct recipients of the Centre's adaptive/training activities. The second group is composed of those whose knowledge and skills will be used in the future to train migrants and officers in activities targeted at people of a different culture. They have been recruited from among representatives of social institutions and job agency organisations, voivodship offices, local governments and boards of education.

Under direct activities of Intercultural Occupation Adaptation Centre, migrants will have an opportunity to take advantage of teaching materials and training programmes, including language courses, lectures on Polish culture, entrepreneurship training and workshop for ethnic minority leaders. A special vocational counselling centre will be established for the beneficiaries with staff members aware of their specific needs and requirements.

Migrants will be able to update their vocational skills, enhance awareness of regulations and procedures followed at Polish Labour market. Participants with disabilities will have an opportunity to follow a rehabilitation programme. All the beneficiaries will have a say in Centre's operations and development of programmes and procedures so that new cooperation models are more closely adjusted to specific adaptive needs of the unemployed coming from different cultures.

Centre's activities targeted at delegates of assistance institutions will include delivery of courses, elaboration of materials, guides and strategies for working with migrants. Project participants will learn effective methods of work with people from other cultures so that institutions they represent are better prepared for meeting specific training and socio-occupational needs of migrants.

The cooperation between several institutions involved in the Project will help to include the issue of discrimination faced by people from other cultures into mainstream social policies and to promote the hiring of multicultural teams by employers.

The outcomes of Partnership's activities will be disseminated using an array of vehicles: seminars and conferences, experts' contributions, authoring and distribution of materials on methodology of dealing with multicultural issues, published articles and reports - just to mention some of the planned dissemination activities targeted at central government authorities and agencies, institutions involved in multicultural issues and competent public services. Dissemination activities are primarily intended to promote a new better approach to cooperation with migrants and prevention of their exclusion from social life in Poland.