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Project of the Week: Tackling obstacles to long term unemployment in Northern Poland


Project of the Week: Tackling obstacles to long term unemployment in Northern Poland

Many obstacles make it hard for people to find a job when they are over 45, have been out of work for some time, or have disabilities or health problems. The Individual Employment Paths project in Elblag, in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie region, offers the expert assistance these people need to overcome the barriers and secure fulfilling occupations. This innovative model first developed in Finland and imported to Poland from Elblag's Disability Advisory Council (Erkon) works with people to solve their individual psychological, social or health related problems.


Thirty-two project participants (27 women and 5 men), all long-term unemployed, received a multiprofile diagnosis under the new model. This led to the establishment of a ‘personal development plan’ for 28 of them, including vocational training, psychological support and support from a job coach. Almost 80 % of these participants went on to find a job. That compared to just 30% for people recruited through standard labour market institutions. The job coach later succeeded in helping nine out of ten of the newly employed beneficiaries to remain in the workplace beyond 15 months, by improving communication and solving any problems arising between the employer and employee.


Cooperation with local employers, including schools is key to success. 60% of those employers involved in the project say they've changed their attitude to employing older people. 


This project, which benefitted from EUR 393 700 EU funding, clearly contributes to the EU’s cohesion policy objective of economic growth and job creation by helping people to be active. The model has already been disseminated at regional and national levels in Poland. Because it is highly efficient, relatively inexpensive to implement and requires little change in labour legislation, it could also be adapted for use in other EU Member States and for other groups of people who need support in the labour market.


The employment model 'Individual employment paths' won the RegioStars 2013 award in the category "Inclusive Growth".


Eliza Popławska-Jodko, project coordinator at ERKON, states about the project:

"Creation of an employment model that permanently changes the quality of life for the long-term unemployed, including disabled people, is the most significant benefit of this project."

Henryk Chudziński, 61, School Caretaker in Elblag and beneficiary of the project after 4 years unemploment states:

"I feel very good. I am a fulfilled person. For me my job is a challenge. I am satisfied with my job."


Project website




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