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ROMA-NeT learning event focuses on Roma and the Labour market

09 February 2012

How to improve Roma employability? This question was at the heart of a transnational ROMA-NeT meeting in Bologna on 27 to 29 September 2011. Practitioners from the partner cities who have experience and learning to share in this field took part in this event where they worked with experts on the theme of Building a transitional labour market.

ROMA-NET is an URBACT project led by Budapest focusing on the integration of Roma populations. Roma people living in the ROMA-NeT partner cities are seriously affected by unemployment, often in the long-term, and systemic exclusion from the labour market. All ROMA-NeT partners, from 10 cities in 8 countries, identified employment as a major issue for Roma individuals and across communities and citied education, skill levels, language, motivation, stigma and discrimination as the key barriers to the inclusion and progression in the workspace. Thus, the central theme of this so-called "third learning cluster meeting" was: Building a transitional labour market – creating, supporting and using an intermediate labour market, the role of the social economy or social firms and social accounting.

After examining the situation in Bologna, the city hosting the meeting, the real trans-national work began on the theme of the inclusion of Roma people in the labour market. Numerous presentations and laboratories filled the three-day event.

URBACT thematic experts Alan Kay and Jackie Scutt from Scotland's Social Enterprise Academy facilitated the learning. Delegates started their learning event by working in a "cafe" style mode making "graffiti"on the walls as they formulated their key questions and made a picture of the issues in their city. Over the first two days, Alan Kay, a specialist in social accounting, presented three case studies to demonstrate the working model and stimulate thinking about how it could be applied at a local level for Roma people. Alan explained: "The problems for minority people who are excluded from the labour market are deeply complex. It is crucial to find solutions that involve people and fit with the local culture. A community-led approach is the only way to make a difference in the long term."

Peer learning and sharing continued formally and informally with delegates collecting and writing up their ideas. This culminated in the final session where the "wall of insights" was reviewed and transformed into a timeline for action in each of the 10 partner cities. The actions will be reviewed in ROMA-NeT's next Learning Cluster event, in Torrent in June.

Bologna also organised two study-visits to relevant local sites including a temporary stay camp in the Savena zone .

Margaret Linton from Glasgow city council, partner in ROMA-Net project, explains: "By the end of our three days we had drawn the landscape of Roma unemployment - we identified the obstacles that prevent access to the labour market; we explored the challenges that exist for individuals and for serviced providers working to improve employability; and we compared examples that had been tried in partner cities. Most importantly we recognised that our services need to be constructed to meet the real needs of Roma and that employer participation is essential if we are to find genuine work opportunities and overcome negative stereotyping that exists."

And according to Manuela Marsano and Viviana Verzieri from Bologna Municipality and Don Paolo Serra Zanetti Institution for Social and Community Inclusion, "the whole event was very well received with satisfaction by both guests and city operators. Those present were able to work together, to share and compare experiences around one of the central themes – unemployment and discrimination, which remains a strong challenge and a key obstacle to successful integration and inclusion of Roma population in many European cities."

To learn more about this topic and the outputs of the meeting, read ROMA-Net Roma-Net Newsletter N3
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