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to Re-entry into Employment for Disadvantaged People
- Strategic Lessons from EQUAL
- Policy Forum: Prevention or Re-imprisonment?
- Exchange Event: Passport to Freedom
- Outcomes from EQUAL European Thematic Group on Employability
- Practical examples of the work of DPs
pathways aim to guide disadvantaged people towards the labour market.
However, the main innovative aspect lies in providing, at a local
level, a low threshold, entry point to a multi-stage integration
process that may take place at several levels, linking and matching
the needs and interests of these vulnerable people to different,
hitherto separate services and offering individualised support and
follow up. Pathways draw on the whole range of resources that can be
mobilised in a local or territorial context and can offer flexible
responses to the needs of very different groups including people with
disabilities, immigrants and ethnic minorities and (ex)-offenders.
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|Pathways to Integration and Re-entry into Employment for Disadvantaged People|
This document summarises outcomes from EQUAL
Development Partnerships (DPs), transnational and national thematic
networks which have piloted integration pathways to guide
disadvantaged people towards the labour market. It concentrates in
particular on the (re-)
integration of groups as
diverse as migrants and ethnic
minorities, (ex-)offenders and
people with disabilities
and also includes annotated references to the EU policy context and
relevant background material.
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This unambiguous question was addressed by the EQUAL Policy Forum on (Ex)-offenders that was held in Warsaw, on 21 and 22 June 2007. During these two days, representatives from EQUAL Managing Authorities, National Support Structures and Development Partnerships were joined by representatives of criminal justice and penal systems, employers, educationalists and non-governmental organisations. Together they concentrated on ways of taking forward the successful approaches to reintegration that have been pioneered by EQUAL.
The Policy Forum was part of a European Mainstreaming Platform that had begun with the "Passport to Freedom" Exchange Event in Lisbon, in October 2006, at which 55 EQUAL DPs had come together to gather evidence of the successful practices that have been tested in EQUAL.
|Context Note: European Union Activities to promote the Resettlement of (Ex)-offenders|
|Prevention or Re-imprisonment? - Summary|
|Recommendations for the Reintegration of (Ex)-offenders|
Almost 150 people from 21 Member States came to the Passport to Freedom Exchange Event that was hosted by the EQUAL Managing Authority in Portugal (Lisbon, 23-24 October 2006). The majority of these delegates represented the 55 EQUAL Second Round Development Partnerships (DPs) that have a primary or exclusive focus on the re-integration of (ex)-offenders.
The main purpose of the Exchange Event was to decide on the policy messages to be transmitted during the subsequent Policy Forum and to consider how some type of web-based Community of Practice could be established that would enable everyone to communicate with each other in the lead up to, and after, the Policy Forum.
|Passport to Freedom - Context and Conclusions|
|Next steps: Moving from Practice to Policy - EQUAL paves the way for New Approaches to the Resettlement of (Ex)-Offenders|
ETG1 generated a number of documents on outcomes from EQUAL Round 1 that also informed further developments in Round 2. The documents that can be accessed through the links listed below are based on contributions from two of the ETG1 working groups which focused on People with Disabilities and on Ethnic Minorities and Migrants.
EQUAL experience has shown that information on available opportunities frequently fails to reach marginalised people and isolation, lack of self-confidence and poor communication skills often prevent them making the first move to establish contact. Thus, their chances of access to staged learning along a pathway largely rely on the ability of those professionals who are involved in the design process to actively reach out to disadvantaged groups, to listen to their needs and aspirations and to understand their cultural values. On that basis, it is possible to provide essential information to help the participant cope better with day to day life and to involve him or her in making the crucial decisions about the stages in the pathway.
A specific aspect in designing pathways for migrants is to determine how to legitimise their prior experience and to promote a recognition of their qualifications and skills that have often been obtained or developed in their country of origin.
In designing the integration pathway, enhancing employability is the central issue but there are other aspects that require attention. Marginalised people are unable to focus on training or on their jobs when they have serious problems in other areas of their lives. Thus, apart from the obvious requirements for education, training, and employment, they can also need support with issues like housing, access to social benefits and help with debt, health and leisure time.
Skills development is a core element of all integration pathways. It can include opportunities for basic skills training, vocational training and training to work in different sectors. Learning requires low threshold access and teaching techniques that capitalise on the previous experience of trainees, overcome attention-span difficulties and take account of family responsibilities, limited income or mobility and cultural background. New information and communication technology is generally less accessible to vulnerable groups and many EQUAL DPs included an introduction to computers as part of the offer of basic skills development and new technology were also used as a training tool.
As part of the integrated pathway approach, EQUAL DPs either provided on-the-job training or negotiated work placements to complement a course of study. Reservation on the part of employers to offer placements to vulnerable groups can be overcome by building trust in the skills and reliability of the trainees and facilitating access to a range of services that offer support to employers. A successful placement is one that leads to subsequent employment and enhances the enterprise's image as being a socially responsible employer. The direct involvement of employers or employers' organisations was the key to the success of many EQUAL DPs that have worked with disadvantaged groups.
A small but significant number of EQUAL projects have experimented successfully in training members of vulnerable groups to set up their own enterprises or to become self-employed. This autonomous route is one way of avoiding the prejudice or stereotyping of employers or work colleagues, as individuals search for an acceptable and economically-viable form of work.
Follow-up support in work placements or during the first employment contract is an effective way of preventing discouragement as new challenges are encountered in working life. With the growth of part-time and short-term contracts, new skills are required to manage budgets, time and family responsibilities.
Follow-up is also needed to ensure that the individual remains in control of any previous or potential problems related to family, health, housing or finance. Through such support the individual also becomes more aware of his or her rights and entitlements and can be encouraged to play a more positive role in the local community, often in conjunction with other project participants.
Perhaps the most important challenge in implementing integration pathways lies in coordinating and networking all the relevant agencies and actors, both formal and informal, in order to provide a coherent and transparent range of accessible services and opportunities. Many institutions and agencies have little experience of cooperative working between departments or with actors outside their institutional framework. The partnership principle of EQUAL has produced many positive examples of cooperation. DPs have developed new ways of managing cooperation between partners as diverse as schools, training providers, guidance services, employers, placement agencies, social services, youth organisations, voluntary bodies and community interest groups, within the context of a multi-agency network.