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 Empatia – Local Solidarity for Equal Opportunities
Project number A0010

Project description

The partnership was established with a view in working out an effective method to equalise labour market opportunities and ensure occupational insertion of the unemployed in a large urban agglomeration. In the city of Łódź, the rate of unemployment is above national average and negative consequences thereof manifest themselves at all levels of the community life. This is detrimental to both public and private sectors, while initiatives aimed at insertion of the unemployed - usually based on statistical data - fail to focus on specific local conditions. In an effort to address this problem, the Partnership has established an innovative project of work with the unemployed, wherein all the partners contribute with specialised complementary knowledge and capabilities: the City Hall of Łódź provides international contacts and the influence on employment policy on the poviat (region) level; the poviat Labour Office contributes with its thorough knowledge of the local labour marker; the Efektor Company is setting up the Local Employers' Council; the Łódź Regional Development Agency Joint Stock Company shares its project management capabilities; while the Rezonans Association contributes with its practical experience and envisioned programme.

The Partnership established two Local Activity Workshops: "Widzew" and "Śródmieście" (named after two districts of the city). The structure and location of the two workshops reflects demographic and town planning patterns of a new development and old tenement houses in the centre of the city. The Project is targeted at the unemployed who face social exclusion after a long period of joblessness. Their vocational skills are not appreciated by the employers and fail to meet standards expected in an information-based society. Due to a lack of knowledge about job market demand they are unable to take any action in order to find a job.

Direct beneficiaries are 160 people falling into the following three age groups: 16-24, 25-49 and over 50 years, with vocational, secondary and higher education. They are to attend all the three modules of the Programme, i.e. they will complete the "Pathway". The Local Activity Workshop is intended to enable 200-500 more people to take advantage of proactive job seeking tools (over the Internet, telephone, daily newspapers, guidebooks, etc.).

In addition to unemployment, job seekers - or final beneficiaries of the Project, face other daily problems: subsequent failures discourage them from making another job finding effort, give rise to family conflicts and mental problems. The Project involves a comprehensive approach to combating the unemployment - all the modules combined (the "Path") last for seven months and the sessions are held in groups of eight participants each. The Project is focused on individual approach to each beneficiary, who is coached by a pre-trained volunteer worker under an informal contract. In such a way, all activities undertaken by the Project participant are monitored, commented and modified on a current basis.

The participants of the Project will improve and acquire new skills that will help them to seek actively a job on their own. They will learn how to write an individualised CV and a credible motivation letter, how to establish a computer database to document one's activities. The participants themselves will prepare a list of their working acquaintances who might be aware of any vacant jobs and a list of potential employer, as well as a schedule of visits to prospective enterprises (the documentation will be established under the "e-inclusion" module, while database under the "Exchange" module). The participants will be given training in gathering and processing information about a company of their choice to prepare themselves to the interview and individualised job application writing. In addition, modules giving basic knowledge of interpersonal communication have been prepared under the Project. The beneficiaries will receive training in proactive listening capabilities, verbal and nonverbal communication, conflict solving and assertive behaviour patterns. Supported by professional psychologists, they will define their personality traits, skills and predispositions, so that they are able to establish their own vocational development path (under "Path", "Switch" and "Psychological Support" modules). Moreover, the Project offers its participants the "Sanus" module to promote a healthy lifestyle and attitudes: joint exercises, volunteer outdoor integration are intended to integrate community bonds and dispel common beliefs that unemployment is associated with absolutely passive attitudes leading to dysfunctions, demoralisation and exclusion.

A local public debate is expected to enhance community-oriented merits of the Project. Under the debate, Project beneficiaries will have an opportunity to strengthen their communication skills and improve information source usage skills, as this will involve, among other things, a conscious and critical use of advertising message, the use of mass media for dissemination of local initiatives (the "Time Bank") and information flow (a local daily newspaper, WW vortal). The Local Employers' Council will be established under the "Dialog" module. The Council is to stimulate the two sides of the labour market and help to dispel common misconceptions about the unemployed and employers.

The Partnership is expecting the Project to work out a universal tool for combating the social exclusion of the unemployed by strengthening the cohesion of the local community.