Network F Supporting the adaptability of firms and employees to structural economic changes and the use of information technology and other new technologies.
Project name The Partnership for Equalising Opportunities
Project number F0490

Project description

Overall objective of the Partnership is to increase and maintain occupational activity of employees from the 40+ group through a "fast response" programme supporting the process of restructuring in companies of the Warmia and Mazury region (Bartoszyce, Lidzbark Warmiński, Szczytno, Ełk and Pisz local authorities). The situation on local labour market is very bad and labour offices record one of the highest unemployment rates in Poland. Many are made redundant because of bad situation of companies. In some poviats up to 20% of small and medium enterprises declared bankruptcy recently. Local market is unable to offer more jobs and restructuring processes undertaken by business owners frequently do not meet the needs of local communities. Small and medium enterprises are not competitive and many of them are ousted from the market. Usually, restructuring is limited to layoffs, affecting primarily employees aged 40 or older. This group is least mobile and unprepared for competition on the labour market, where the use of modern information and communication technologies becomes an increasingly important factor.

Elderly employees have limited access to training programmes because of high costs of courses and employers' reluctance to invest in the knowledge of their staff. Redundant employees from this age group become permanently unemployed because they are not prepared to compete on the open labour market. Their difficult situation is aggravated by the fact that on one hand legislation reduces early retirement opportunities and on the other - does not encourage to maintain employment in this age group. Labour market institutions tend to mitigate the effects of unemployment rather than promote employment and creation of new jobs. No consistent and effective system of entrepreneurship support exists in the poviats covered by the Partnership.

The project promoters propose development of support methodology intended for small and medium enterprises under restructuring and their employees, while bringing the focus of local authorities, non-governmental organisations and the entire community of employees on the challenges faced by groups in danger of social exclusion. The project beneficiaries are employees of restructured companies in 5 poviats (a total of 300 persons). The activities will cover mainly employees from the 40+ age group without vocational skills and educated employees whose jobs are being phased out. Other beneficiaries include institutions operating in the poviats, entrepreneurs and indirectly the local community of the region. Under the Partnership, in every poviat a „Fast Response Team" will be established with the aim of supporting the companies and their employees. As part of fast response solution, a Poviat Team for Occupational Adaptation will be established, including representatives of local institutions (local authorities, employers and employees' associations) assisting groups in danger of exclusion, supporting the restructuring in companies and facilitating the use of their full potential locally. The beneficiaries - employees of these companies, will be able to use Peer Support Groups providing support and information about available assistance and training courses. Groups will organise workshops and meetings with occupational advisers, psychologists and other specialists, helping to find and shape further careers of redundant employees. A training programme for a group 40+ of age was developed to enhance mobility and abilities to retrain according to the employers' needs. The beneficiaries will be able to improve existing skills and acquire new ones in the field of construction, welding, machine operation, craftsmanship, catering, trade, tourism, hotel industry and in more specialised fields such as finance, management, marketing, advertisement and management techniques. The training process will be permanently monitored by fast response specialists. The management of restructured companies will also benefit from the training course: they will learn new methods of management and how to acquire EU funds.

A brochure titled "The Handbook of the Unemployed" with practical information for local job seekers (i.e. information on local institutions, support, training and advisory organisations and their activities geared towards the unemployed) will be published. The brochure will be regularly updated by poviat fast response specialists. In order to increase the impact of the project, the Partnership will disseminate fast response methodology enabling better support for restructured enterprises and equalising opportunities for groups in danger of labour market exclusion.