Czech Republic: ROMEA meets with Romani job-seekers, debt collection and discrimination main concerns
Almost 30 people gathered last week in the House of National Minorities in Prague to get more information about the processes of debt collection, job seeking and the welfare system as well as how to address discrimination in education and employment. Almost all of them had been involved during the past year with the ROMEA organization's "Support for Romani Employment in Prague (2013-2014)" project and have been doing their best to find work.
"From the numerous experiences of our employment agents in the field, we found that our clients were not just addressing problems with employment, but also problems with housing or indebtedness. Some cannot be hired precisely because of these other problems, and we can't offer them adequate intervention given our narrow profile. We also discovered that our clients rarely contact other specialized counseling centers or organizations that might aid them. That's why we decided to organize this meetng where experienced professionals from other areas are present to provide at least a minimum of counseling and other contacts to those in attendance here," explains František Bikár, the coordinator of ROMEA's employment mediation.
One of the lecturers was Ivana Eliášková of the Career Counseling Center, which is part of the National Institute for Education. Her presentation focused in particular on the reasons people fail to find work, as well as on the motivation that the long-term unemployed gradually lose.
During the section of her presentation on employer behavior, a lively debate unfolded about the frequent discrimination that Romani people encounter when seeking work. "I was very surprised that even college-educated Romani people suffer stigmatization and have very low self-confidence because of their Romani origin. This, too could be a reason for their failure to find adequate employment, in addition to other factors," Eliášková said.
Aneta Krajíčková of the R-Mosty organization's Social and Legal Counseling Center discussed welfare-related limitations and opportunities connected to employment. In the context of discussing pay and the fact that many people often work "under the table", Klára Městková of the Rubikon Center organization explained what amount of a salary will realistically be paid to a worker whose wages have been attached as part of a collections process.
At the close of the meeting, clients were introduced to the toll-free Anti-Discrimination Hotline run by ROMEA. Jitka Votavová, a contact staffer with the hotline, continued to answer questions even after the meeting was officially over.
The project "Support for Romani Employment in Prague (2013-2014)" was jointly realized by ROMEA and the nonprofit organization SLOVO 21 and ends on 31 December. To date more than 60 clients have been hired thanks to the project, more than 70 other clients have attended re-qualification courses, and 20 clients have graduated from motivational courses.
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