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Patterns of Roma employment and the capacity of labour market policies to make a change. Messing Vera, Ph.D. Center for Policy Study, CEU, Budapest; Center for Social Sciences , HAS 2nd NEUJOBS Validation Even:

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patterns of roma employment and the capacity of labour market policies to make a change

Patterns of Roma employment and the capacity of labour market policies to make a change

Messing Vera, Ph.D.

Center for Policy Study, CEU, Budapest;

Center forSocialSciences, HAS

2nd NEUJOBS Validation Even:

Employment 2025 - Ho will Multiple Transitions Affect the European Labour Market

9-11 April 2014, Bonn

construction of wp19
Construction of WP19
  • Task1: Overview of labour market regulations (influencing both the labor supply an demand side) that influence the employment of low educated people + overview the labour market situation of Roma/Gypsy population in the 5 countries;
  • Task2: Overview and analysis of labour market policies explicitly targeting or indirectly affecting employment opportunities of Roma population in the 5 countries;
  • Task3: Fieldwork research investigating how policies influence labour market position and opportunities of Roma locally;
  • Task4: Synthesis of the macro and micro level investigations. Policy study on patterns of Roma employment.
the empirical research
The empirical research
  • Phase 2: desk research on policies
  • Phase 3: Exploratory micro research conducted in 5 countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Spain).
    • Aims:
      • Understand how centrally designed labour market policies and employment programs are implemented locally;
      • Understand how the local level transforms centrally designed programs;
    • Limitation:
      • Micro-level in depth study -> provides a snapshot of „here” and „now” -> findings can not be generalized.
  • Phase 4: Amalgamation of the above. Policy implications

1. Methodological decisions result in highly diverging employment rates within the same country – we do not know how low in fact the employment rate of Roma is;

2. It is definitely lower than that of non-Roma.

main reasons of low employment
Main reasons of low employment

Low levels of education: although in Hungary and Slovakia have Roma the highest educational levels, in these two countries is the employment level the lowest. Why???

Source: FRA Roma survey 2011

causes behind low employment rates of roma
Causes behind low employment rates of Roma

Structures of the economy: the strength of economic sectors that are potential employers of low skilled (construction industry, tourism, agriculture);

Crisis: the crisis since 2008 hit the low skilled workforce, and among them Roma, hard. Exactly those economic branches were affected most, which are potential employers of low-skilled (construction ind., tourism)

Regional disadvantage: A vast part of Roma resides in economically marginalized regions, characterized by enduring long-term unemployment and lack of jobs.

causes behind low employment rates of roma1
Causes behind low employment rates of Roma

Cost of formally employing low skilled workforce: regulations on minimum wage and contributions. Decision of multinational companies – major employers of low skilled – are driven by labour cost. Enormous differences among the 5 countries.

The significance of informal employment: According to UNDP regional survey 20-60% of Roma work informally in CEE countries.

Discrimination: is a substantial barrier to Roma employment, especially at its entry point in Central-East Europe. 40-70% of Roma declared such experiences in the LM.

what are not causes of low employment rates breaking some public sense stereotypes
What are not causes of low employment rates? Breaking some „public sense” stereotypes

Lack of willingness to work

UNDP survey as well as national surveys prove that there is a very high willingess to work among Roma.

Exploiting the social welfare system. Employment rates are highest in countries with a relatively generous social welfare safety net (Spain)

policy responses framework
Policy responses: framework

ALMP targeted explicitly to Roma are rare.

  • Exception is the Spanish ACCEDER; and few, local programs in CEE countries


  • political risk;
  • functionality: the roots of high unemployment lie in vulnerabilities unrelated with ethnicity, such as low education, geographical disadvantages, cost of labour;
  • lack of ethnic data -> problems of designing and monitoring outcomes of ethnically targeted programs.

Instead : we looked at mainstream programs and their potentials to reach Roma unemployed.

institutional environ m ent of almp employment labour offices job centers
Institutional environment of ALMP: employment (labour) offices, job centers
  • The mandate of EO included registration of unemployed, training and skill building services, mentoring and job-match services in all countries;
  • In reality in Romania and Bulgaria interviewees gave account of the registration function. No job match services and extreme cases of mistreatment, humiliation and discrimination of Roma unemployed.
  • Often they did not reach out to Roma residing in marginalized settlements;
  • Lack of tailored services (exception is Spain).
  • Proposal:
    • Awareness raising training for Employment Office (EO) servants;
    • Regularly surveying of client satisfaction in EOs, including the aspect of discrimination;
    • Employ staff from the Roma community;
    • EO Services should move to the clients in marginalized settlements instead of the currently prevalent principle of “clients should travel to the office”.
    • Offering tailored, multiple services.
findings the data problem
Findings: The data problem
  • Lack of available data on Roma participation in policy measures is a major obstacle to designing, implementing and monitoring ALMP impact on Romain all countries.
  • Ethnic data can be more a tool of monitoring impact of ALMP on Roma and thus support better targeting rather than designing ethnically targeted programs;
  • Proposal:
    • Self-declared ethnicity of beneficiaries should become a part of anonymized surveys on ALMP ;
    • Roma surveys should ask about participation in ALMP;
    • Including questions on self-declared ethnicity into large scale comparative surveys (LFS, SILK, household panel survey).
response to low employment job creation
Response to low employment: Job creation
  • In HU, SL, BG and SP. This is the ALMP reachingthelargestnumber of Roma unemployed. It is a top priorityin HU ALMP:
    • Twocategories(Torfing; Bonoli 2010)
    • Negativeactivation: reliesonsanctions and benefit reduction (HU, Sl)


    • Positiveactivation: relies on improving skills and empowerment (SP).
practices of job creation
Practices of job creation
  • Mundane and redundant work; stigmatization effect (SK,BG, HU).
  • Public workbecomes a trap – it traps unemployed in the circulation of public workand social welfare benefits (BG, HU, SL) – it is not a path to employment.
  • Defencelessness of „beneficiaries” if PE is tied to entitlement to benefits.
  • LM distortion effect: filling in regular positions with public workers (SK, HU replacing positions of retired by PE);
  • Lowered productivity;
  • Proposal:
    • involve meaningful activities that bear an added value;
    • be part of a complex intervention including several of the following elements: tailored training, personalised mentoring, efficient job-match services; (Spain)
    • Limit thescope and time (offeronly to the unemployed in the most vulnerable situations and only for a limited period of time); (Spain)
    • operated in the form of job try-out;
    • not be regarded by governments as ‘the solution’ for the employment of Roma.
response to high cost of employment wage subsidy
Response to high cost of employment: wage subsidy
  • Aim: to bridge the lack of trust of employers towards unemployed belonging to vulnerable groups and decrease cost of their employment
  • Existed in all countries with different conditions and level of support, but applied only in HU in great numbers.
  • May be very efficient: this ALMP contributes the most to LM integration (Scharle 2013)
  • Roma are not a target group: age groups, period of unemployment; returnees (young mothers) etc.
  • Proposal:
    • Conditions prescribed for employers should remain as flexible as possible while aspects demarcating beneficiaries are set in a restrictive manner (by setting multiple circumstances of disadvantaged situations.
    • Ethnicity should be identified as an aspect of vulnerability.
almp response to low education training
ALMP response to low education: Training
  • Training are not suitable to address the major educational disadvantages of Roma – only public education could do this!
  • This is the largest segment of ALMP in most countries (not in Hungary).
  • Proposals:
    • The content and qualifications provided by training programmes should be regularly adjusted to the needs of the local labour market. To this end, the EO should conduct regular surveys of local employers.
    • Training programmes should be as practical as possible, and organized in cooperation with local firms.
    • As opposed to the prevalent ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of many training programmes, courses should be more personalised, and adapted to the needs and capacities of unemployed individuals.
    • Defining a goalfor Roma participation; (Hu)
response to discrimination affirmative action
Response to discrimination: affirmative action
  • No anti-discrimination programs or affirmative actions found which would counterweight the effects of discrimination, with the exception of Spanish ACCEDER.
  • Proposals:
    • employing Roma in public offices and are involved in designing and implementing ALMP;
    • giving preference to Roma applicants for jobs in public offices;
    • promoting active participation of Roma NGOs in the design and monitoring of ALMP targeting disadvantaged long-term unemployed;
    • awareness-raising training for LO workers
the spanish vs central european models
The Spanish vs. Central European „models”
  • The important difference lies in the distribution of EU Funds (ERDF and ESF): whether Roma are involved, participate or not.
  • The implementation then follows a mainstreaming (explicit but not exclusive) principle.
  • Consequence:
    • significant Roma participation;
    • Stable, calculable and sustainable programs;
    • Significant funding;
  • ALMP that reaches Roma ALMP do not address the roots and causes of Roma unemployment (education, costs employment , economic structure, regional inequalities;
  • Efficient ALMP typically do not reach out to Roma in CEE (creaming off effect, biased selection, discriminatory attitudes of program implementers);
  • Those, which reach Roma – job creation, public work – does not support their labour market integration, contrarily constructs a parallel structure;
  • Important differences between Ro&Bg –Hu&Sl - Spain
  • There is space for perfection;
conclusion targeting
Conclusion: targeting

Exclusive ethnic targeting of employment programmes is rarely a feasible and efficient way to reach out to Roma;

Instead, targeting according to a careful combination of factors behind vulnerability (low education; age; health situation; living in marginalized regions; having small children) may lead to reaching out to a significant number of Roma.

In addition, the identification of an ethnic target (about the share of Roma on an aggregate level) of otherwise mainstreaming ALMP is desirable.

Affirmative measures resulting in Roma presence in public offices is a strong need.

The involvement / participation of Roma in the distribution of (EU) funds assigned to integration!



The report is availableat: