The local office of the Roma Education Fund is implementing a project titled “Improvement of opportunities for Roma integration and education in Serbia, facilitation of the employability of Roma youth and reintegration of returnees”. The project is being implemented with the support of the German Development Bank, and it consists of three different components: one of them deals with education, another is related to employment, and a third deals with the reintegration of returnees.
The main goal of the project is the active inclusion of Roma in all aspects of society. However, to be able to speak of an improvement in the status of Roma, we must have quality inclusion.
Regarding the improvement of the status of Roma, significant progress has been achieved in the field of education. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same in regards to employment.
Employment is a complex and long-term process. It is necessary to motivate employers to cooperate, but at the same time to motivate the Roma community towards a more active role in jobseeking. The good part of this project is the fact that a lot of attention is being paid to individuals, i.e. the candidates have the opportunity to improve their skills, and by attending various forms of professional training and foreign language courses, through additional qualification, requalification or internships with various employers from the public and private sector, to improve their knowledge and skills and become more competitive in the labour market. Furthermore, work is also being done on the self-confidence of our beneficiaries, so that in time they truly become active jobseekers.
Members of the Roma national minority who are our beneficiaries differ significantly regarding their level and structure of acquired education. We are being contacted by Roma students, Roma college graduates, secondary school graduates, but there are also Roma who are insufficiently qualified for the labour market. One common characteristic of all our beneficiaries is that they come from very poor families.
For example, the family of an intern in Niš works in collecting secondary raw materials. The young man became part of our project by attending our info-meeting, and then wanting to try and see if an internship in a private company would be an opportunity for him. He became involved, although he was sceptical, and all of this seemed perhaps a bit strange to him, because for the first time he had to start working, for the first time he was part of a larger system. But this candidate really managed things well and after a three-month internship he will be employed, i.e. the company recognized him as a quality worker and will offer him a labour contract.
The local office of the Roma Education Fund is highly motivated, wishing to involve as many young Roma as possible in its projects, and it recognizes the need to engage young members of the Roma national minority in various sectors. We represent a link between employers and the Roma community. We believe that in the forthcoming period we will have even more interns and candidates who will attend various forms of professional education, and hope to provide employment to a larger number of young Roma in Serbia.