Opportunities and barriers to occupational activation of the chronically unemployed was a research project, funded by the ESF Human Capital Operational Programme, Priority VI "The labour market open to all", sub-measure 6.1.1 "Support for the unemployed on the regional labour market." The project was conducted from 01.01.2010 to 31.12.2010, in areas particularly affected by unemployment in Mazovia region, in the districts of Szydłowiec, Radom, including Radom city, Przysucha and Maków. The project was coordinated by doctor Pawel Kubicki from the Institute of Social Economy at the Warsaw School of Economics.
The main objective of the project study was to identify opportunities and barriers to occupational activation of men and women who had been unemployed for more than 24 months, and to propose specific measures to improve the situation of this group.
The research has identified the need to make changes in several areas:
- The main postulate is that social policy should be understood widely and therefore, include a social activity as well as health, education, etc. Such an understanding of social policy can not be based merely on Social Services Centres, local Family Support Centres and local Job Centres, but all key local institutions, mainly the municipalities and local authorities, NGOs, businesses, health care institutions, a church, a library, school, etc., must be involved in the process.
- The budget is no less important. Here the challenge is to design task-oriented (instead of trade) budgeting. In the same vein, the local strategy should be designed by all entities, engaged in it from the very beginning, at the level of public consultation, in such a way, as to 1) reflect the real problems and needs and 2) include clearly defined objectives, indicators, tasks distribution and work schedule . Therefore, the obligation for designing a strategy is as much important as monitoring, that the resulting document meets the characteristics of a useful document and can contribute to the effective implementation of the objectives set in the strategy.
- The next recommended option points at a better use of available resources to support the long-term unemployed. Social Services Centres and the local Job Centres should adopt a strategy for the selection of families requiring the most urgent help, but who are also able to find employment. The situation of a person who is addicted and unemployed at the same time, might be a good example. There is no point investing in the training of the unemployed alcoholics without prior treatment of their addiction. Addicts cannot be considered in terms of re-entering the labour market without, at least, starting their therapy first.
- An investment in the institutional system of child care is also an important challenge. This can result in a better chance to activate mothers. The unemployed women respondents have often indicated that an expansion of the network of affordable childcare facilities or mini-nurseries, would reduce serious barriers, which often prevent women from entering the labour market due to their family responsibilities.
- An optimal, but rather unrealistic solution, is to try to attract large investors that would like to hire dozens, hundreds of people with low qualifications. Making efforts to implement such ideas cannot be abandoned by the local authorities, however, we must remember that it is small and micro private enterprises that offer most jobs in Polish (and not only Polish) economy. Therefore, the support for development of entrepreneurship, including the establishment of business incubators, may help to improve the situation on the local labour markets.