SITUATION BEFORE THE INITIATIVE BEGAN
The Spanish Roma community consists of more than 650.000 people, which is going through a moment of transformation and change. They live under a situation of especial difficulty that constitutes one of the main causes for inequality and social exclusion: the great existing distance between them and ordinary ways of accessing vocational training and employment. Great part of the existing prejudices and stereotypes that cause stigmatization from the great majority, are based on economic motives. This Program represents, in this sense, a unique opportunity for the current generation of roma youngsters, to have access to the labour market in equal opportunities and conditions as any other non roma Spanish citizen.
ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIORITIES
Although actions themselves are directly run by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, the definition and establishment of priorities have been confronted with various representatives from the roma association movement.
The main priority is to promote and launch labour insertion actions such as individual employment pathways and the development and improvement of human resources, aimed at the roma community, since it is one of the most disadvantaged social groups within the Spanish state. Their situation of social exclusion along with their cultural specificity and peculiarities make this task rather difficult. This priority is divided into three dimensions:
• The firs one, to promote the access of roma community to regular employment, now that the labour situation is rising.
• The second one, to impulse the creation of community services oriented basically to improve people’s quality of life and specially, to promote the social integration of the roma community itself.
• The third one, to foster throughout the regional and local governments, more active and targeted oriented social and cultural policies with roma community.
FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
The main aim is to promote equal opportunities for the roma community in their access to the labour market, especially young women. This aim leans on an integrated and multidimensional approach in relation to training and employment. Such approach develops into coherent and converging two sided strategy:
• The development and improvement of the employability or labour insertion capacity of the roma community, which is guaranteed by facilitating their access to vocational training and employment local and regional resources, and eventually, to the labour market. Individual treatment is essential in this methodology, beginning with an initial diagnosis of employability conditions of each person and designing appropriate measures and steps needed to improve their conditions to access employment.
• To encourage and develop new jobs within community services, fostering more active policies with the roma community. Such services tackle their urgent need to social integration.
MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES
Actions aimed at the roma community through this Operational Program Against Discrimination from European Social Fund were assigned to the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) to run them as a whole, given this entity’s experience and trajectory in the field of vocational training and employment.
On one hand, to carry out this program and, therefore, to promote the access of the roma community into the labour market, 44 integrated employment units have been set up in many cities throughout Spain. These units are located in accessible places for the roma community; they are fully equipped with necessary tools; they are composed of a total of 5 professionals in charge of running the program at local level (1 manager, 2 labour counselors, 1 intermediator with enterprises and 1 intercultural mediator –roma-).
On another hand, in the field of social policies, partnership is a crucial structure around which many and different interests take place around one common project. Following this philosophy, the Operational Program is clearly launching the participation of various entities, as well as the synergy and complementarity with other initiatives with similar aims (other Operational Programs from European Social Fund, EQUAL Initiatives, regional and local programs, national programs….).
What are some key aspects that guarantee the success of this program?
• Involvement of financial supporters of more than 70 departments from public administrations (national, regional and local level), from the areas of social policies and vocational training and employment.
• Involvement of entrepreneur sector, media and other entities that are participating in the program in different ways.
• Leading role of affected groups and their representative entities (roma associative movement, social networks…) in the development of the program actions.
• Setting up of Monitoring Committees where more than 100 entities from all over Spain, are formally involved. The aim of such Committees is to disseminate as much information as possible and to guarantee full transparency in the program actions.
At the present time we now at the end of the Program’s development (2000-2006) and quantitative results reinforce the aim and methodology of the program, namely, to put into practice the principle of equal opportunities of the roma community in their access to training and employment, so that they fully integrate into society. Such quantitative evaluation of the program’s development takes us necessarily to highlight its impact in at least three areas:
• Regarding direct impact on the roma community, it is remarkable its impact on the improvement on their employability conditions gained through training and job experiences of customers of the 44 set up guidance and employment units throughout Spain (see map). Such results constitute small but important steps towards the elimination of all kinds of discrimination of the roma community in the access to the labour market. It is also important to increase and consolidate social cohesion.
• Regarding the institutional field, it is remarkable to see how the program is raising awareness and sensitizing institution about the need to adapt the training and employment systems to the specific situation of the roma community so that this last one may have access to all public services.
• Regarding awareness raising of the general society and entrepreneurship, although it is not yet enough, we have witnessed attitude changes, mainly due to concrete personal experiences of relationships with roma people and due to campaigns and production of documents pursuing breaking down stereotypes and ignorance about the roma community.
Although we understand that normalization of the roma community in the field of employment is starting now be become true, there is still much to do. In these years the Operational Program has focused its efforts in promoting quality and labour stability along with effective training actions that lead to real job opportunities and sensitizing actions aimed at the general society and to public institutions to that they contribute to dignify the roma community labour situation.
In spite of this positive evaluation of the development Program, we are aware of existing limits to the Program’s intervention, as well as remaining challenges to be tackle in the near future, such as:
• To assure that certain sectors within the roma community, who have hardly benefited from the Operational Program until now, benefit from it.
• To intensify accompaniment and follow up of customers in their employment pathways, so that they achieve more stable and good jobs and increase their participation in training resources.
• To promote more training actions aimed at improving the quality of jobs by improving people’s professional qualification, paying special attention to the development of professional competences in the field of new technologies.
• To give response to the need of a greater impact of “positive messages” against employment discrimination in the labour market, by promoting more sensitizing actions aimed at entrepreneurs, public administrations and society in general.
From the quantitative perspective:
• More than 8.900 roma people have had access to a labour contract (20.217 labour contracts).
• More than 350.000 hours of vocational training have been given throughout 400 courses where more than 4.000 roma pupils have participated.
From a qualitative perspective:
• The promotion of autonomy and welfare of customers involved
- Improving their possibilities of accessing a job
- Guaranteeing advance in equal opportunities
- Facilitating Roma’s incorporation into regular resources
- Improving Roma’s levels of social participation
• The impact against discrimination for ethnic reasons, throughout the Awareness Raising Campaing “Get to know them before judging them”, developed during the years 2004 y 2005.
• To impulse more active social policies aimed at the roma community that open up new training and employment spaces where they can participate.
• To establish the set of actions in 44 cities of 13 regions within Spain with the participation of around 70 public and private entities, many of them supporting the program financially.
• Wide dissemination among the roma community about aims and actions carried out.
• Design, elaboration and implementation of a guidance and labour insertion methodology and tools adapted to the target group.
• The development of a research on the employment reality of the Spanish Roma Population, that was non-existing so far.
• Elaboration of a Report to claim detected cases of discrimination, both in the training and in the employment sphere.
Financial: More than 60 departments from the public administration (state, regional and local) participate with financial support. The participating departments deal with social welfare policies and vocational training and employment. Such participation will facilitate the incorporation of such measures within the more general policies carried out by public administrations.
Social and Economic: partnerships with public administrations has contributed greatly to the principle of local development, since it has allowed the Fundación Secretariado Gitano to take part in local development plans and to impulse adapted policies in this framework. That is to say, that “roma policies” are being incorporated into general policies.
The European Social has considered the Program´s managing systems as being efficient, effective and transparent in the use of financial funds, human and technical resources.
On the other hand, social cohesion is promoted by negotiating between all agents and activating the involvement of all actors that are working within the same territory with a common project.
Gender equality is also fostered. Roma women have a preferential treatment within the Program action plan. Around 50% of total customers and of the total number of labour insertions are women. Specific actions aimed exclusively to roma women are developed.
Cultural: the action plans start from a deep knowledge of the reality of the roma community and its labour situation, which clearly leads to a more efficient and of greater quality intervention with the target group. Such intervention is developed by qualified teams which are intercultural, that is, include roma workers and non roma workers. Many or the roma workers act as mediators within the community.
The involvement of the roma community itself is also promoted, strengthening its capacity for participation, letting the information be accessible to the community (in time and in a comprehensive way) so that they have the possibility to take decisions and to develop their capacities.
Institutional: The Spanish government approved the European Directive 2000/43, regarding the application of the equal treatment principle, regardless of people´s racial or ethnic origin. To our understanding, in our democratic societies, the “fight for equal treatment implies a wider perception than just “the fight against discrimination”, since the first one also implies equal opportunities for every person so that they become full citizens, including the roma community.
Elaboration and application of a guidance and labour insertion methodology and tools adapted to the roma community: individual intervention that takes into account cultural aspects (the relevance of the family, the concept of work and time…).
• Welcome and gathering of personal information
• Elaboration of diagnosis
• Design of individual labour pathways
• Development of actions
• To accompany customers
• Support within the family and community environment
Impact against discrimination for ethnic reasons
• Against ideological elements that may hinder equality: the program contributes to weaken stereotypes by promoting the incorporation of roma people into the regular circuits of training and employment.
• Against structural factors that act as barriers to equality: more flexible and adapted regulations and norms in relation to accessing training and employment resources are being fostered. Through the Program, discrimination acts or processes are being detected, recognized, quantified and analyzed. Sensitizing measures aimed at our own staff are carried out so that they become aware and involved in the detection of discrimination and in the promotion of antidiscriminatory practices and approaches.
• Against the historical misunderstanding between the roma community and the rest of society: the Program contributes to increase the Roma’s capacity for participation and expression. Contact and communication and relationships between roma and non roma people are facilitated. Joint activities between roma and non roma people are launched.
Participation of roma women in the Program
• 51,5% of total customers are women
• 65% of participants in vocational training courses, are women
• 49% of total roma customers that have had access to employment, are women.
These learned lessons are letting us rearrange actions and reprogram actions in order to:
• Have a greater positive impact in the social and media awareness.
• Introduce measures that lead to a better basic training and qualification of the roma customers, which would improve their conditions of access and maintenance into the labour market.
• Give an impulse to transfer this model of intervention into general public administration policies with competences in the field of vocational training and employment.
Main aspects regarding potential transferability of the Program:
• European Union enlargement towards Eastern countries, where roma population is very high and whose social exclusion situation is very worrying and need to be tackled. This scenery confers great relevance to roma issues in the European context, which was previously rather ignored. Spain is, by far, the country from the European Union with bigger percentage of roma population. This Program may be a role model for many countries from eastern Europe, since its approach in based more on social integration than in cultural identity, concentrating efforts in improving life conditions of the roma community by their full incorporation into vocational training and regular employment.
• The European Development Bank from the European Council considered this Program transferable to Eastern countries. In fact, we have signed an agreement with the Development Bank to, together with them, provide technical assistance to projects aiming at improving the living conditions of the Roma community in Eastern countries.
• At the start of the Program In the year 2000, we started 30 guidance and employment units in 30 different territories of Spain. Nowadays, due to direct request from other municipalities and regional administrations, we have enlarged the program and we are currently running 44 units.
• The Program’s implementation processes and managing could also be used as role models to be used in other territories with very marked or distinct social and cultural characteristics and with limitations in the population’s access to general training and employment resources (other minorities, migrants, etc…). Due to the size of the Program, the development of the managing and coordination system is a key element for the success of the program. Such system may be transferred to other kind of projects, especially those run by big NGO´s and developing employment and social intervention in a wide territory.
• The integrated approach of actions: comprises the whole individual employment pathway. The program operates with a multiregional strategy, taking into account peculiarities and specific needs and characteristics from every territory, starting from their common elements in this field, so that they become transferable.
RELATED POLICY/IES OR LEGISLATION
Spain approved the law 62/2003 of fiscal, administrative and social order measures that introduced in the Spanish legal system the minimum protectin framework of the European Directive 2000/43 transposition, related to the application of equal treatment principle of persons, regardless of their racial or ethnic origin. A Council for th promotion of equal treatment and no discrimination will be shortly created in Spain.