Internatonal Confrence on the Implementation and Harmonization of National Policies on Roma, Sinti and Travellers “Guidelines for a Common Vision”, Bucharest, 4 and 5 May 2006

Enhancing the employability
of the disadvantaged job applicants at the labour market
in Slovak Republik
Ms Sofia Daskalová – Plenipotentiary Office of the Slovak Government for Roma Community

The groups that are at the highest risk of social exclusion and poverty due to the cumulative effect of several key disadvantaging factors include marginalised Roma communities living in rural or urban settlement units, whose number in Slovakia is estimated at several hundred. The most disadvantaged group of them are Roma communities, who are facing double marginalization. On one side they live in marginalised regions, where they have a minimum chance to find a job and thus end their dependence on social safety net; on the other hand, because of a number of reasons, they are virtually unemployable on the labour market, or their entry on the labour market is more difficult (e.g. because they are disadvantaged due to their lower skill level or social exclusion). Problem of the labour market in Slovakia is that there is a large number of disadvantaged long term-unemployed job applicants. Significant portions of this group are Roma.

With effect from 1st February 2004 in Slovakia become effective Act No. 5/2004 Coll. on Employment Services, amending and supplementing certain laws as amended, which defines disadvantaged groups of job applicants – citizens, who are with regard to their age, family reasons, length of their evidence in labour offices, educational background, absence of work experience and health status, have difficulties to find a job in the labour market, and therefore they need special attention (school graduates, adolescents, handicapped, long-term unemployed, citizens in the age of 50). The act regulates the rights and responsibilities of citizens in the area of access to employment by the civil principle rather than the ethnic, religious or other principles, the stress being laid on the groups of people that are disadvantaged on the labour market; consequently, Roma communities are considered as part of one of the relevant groups of disadvantaged job seekers of which they meet the characteristics.

Law about employment services created a system, in which through active labour market policy instruments contributes to enhancing the employability of the disadvantaged job applicants at the labour market. Adopting of the law created new possibilities:

    - financing of the active labour market policy instruments have been ensured by the resources of the state budget;
    - conditions have been created to cofinance the active labour market policy instruments through resources from European Social Fund and through national projects and demand orientated projects. (Whereas the financing is nowadays moving in the direction of the ESF);

Active labour market policy instruments support employment rate, enhancing the employability of job seekers and job applicants through education and preparation on the labour market, professional advisory services, graduate practice, activation work and relocation in search of work.

Among the active labour market policy instruments are used:

      e partial reimbursement of job seekers´ travel expenses connected with job interview or selection proceedings;
      e training and preparing job seekers and job applicants for the labour market
      e contribution for self-employment
      e contribution for employing a disadvantaged job seeker
      e contribution for graduate practise
      e contribution for activation work and others.

Allow me to briefly describe three national projects, which have the largest potential to have an effect on the marginalized Roma Communities.

In order to support the creation of new jobs by means of a contribution for increased costs incurred by employing disadvantaged job seekers, a national project I. Supporting the Employment of the Unemployed with Emphasis on Disadvantaged Groups on the Labour Market has been prepared. Within this project the employers who create new jobs will receive support from the ESF. A contribution for self-employment of unemployed job seekers will also be provided in the framework of this project, applicable to provable expenses and only in case of uninterrupted performance of self-employment for a period of no less than two years. One condition for providing this contribution is also the requirement to prepare and submit a business plan. The amount of the contribution will be graduated subject to the specific conditions of the region in which the contribution is to be provided. In regions and districts having a higher rate of registered unemployment this contribution will be higher.

To support the maintenance and creation of working habits, a national project V. Activation of the Unemployed and the Unemployed with a Low Motivation Dependent on Material Need Assistance has been prepared. The main aim of the project is to support the maintenance of working habits, in particular of those long-term unemployed job seekers who are dependent on material need assistance. Municipalities, legal entities or natural persons are provided a contribution for activation activities, which can be used to cover a part of expenses of job seekers carrying out activation activities (e.g. personal protective equipment, accident insurance, part of the total labour costs of an employee who organises the activation activities). On the other hand the job seekers can increase basic material need assistance by the amount of activation contribution granted for their participation in minor services for a municipality or in voluntary works organised by legal or natural persons. By means of mentioned minor services a significant portion of Roma Communities are participating in building of lower standard rental housing for citizens in material or social distress, upkeeping and cleaning of public urban and municipalities sites, building, reparation, reconstruction of public utilities, cleaning of watercourses, forest and others.

A contribution is provided in the framework of active labour market measures for the practice of school graduates in the framework of national project IX Graduate Practice designed to increase the employability of young people through training and preparation for the labour market.
The contribution for graduate practice enables school graduates to acquire the skills and practical experience corresponding to their level of education. The graduates performing graduate practice receive monthly flat-rate contribution from the relevant office of labour and social affairs month to cover their essential personal expenses connected with participation in graduate practice. The relevant office may also provide school graduates a compensation for insurance premiums for accident insurance during the performance of graduate practice. Similarly, also the employer where the practice is being performed receives monthly flat-rate contribution to cover essential expenses per graduate. One of the target groups of the project are adolescent Roma in the age of 16.

Further improvement of employability of the disadvantaged job applicants at the labour market and prevention of new long-term unemployment shall be ensured by the following measures:

- adaptation of special preparation and education according to requirements of the society based on knowledges;
- ensuring equal access to education for all groups of inhabitants;

    - enlarging and improving the quality of education and preparation on the labour market according to the specific needs of disadvantaged job applicants;
    - continuation in implementation of the active labour market policy instruments through national projects cofinanced by ESF;
    - regular monitoring and evaluation of effects of the active labour market policy instruments;