It is a combination of complex factors that are responsible for the very high and concentrated levels of Roma unemployment. Low education no qualifications; out of date skills; living in settlements with poor transport links; isolated communities with limited access to jobs or information about jobs. Individually each one is a real barrier and obstacle to entering the labour market. But many working age Roma face a combination of these barriers which makes them virtually unemployable and unable to secure any type of formal employment. On top there is the added impact of direct and indirect discrimination and the negative stereotyping about Roma which makes unemployment and labour market exclusion an insurmountable problem for many working age Roma.
Roma unemployment is a complex phenomenon, it is difficult to remedy given the multi-layered and inter-generational elements, but Cities cannot afford to ignore the problem.
In 2004 the development economist Hector McNeill reported that ‘Roma-specific unemployment, or underemployment, has created endemic economic under-performance of the economies of Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia’. Since then things have not improved and whole communities of Roma people are negatively affected by mass unemployment, poverty and poor living conditions. All of which are intensified by the ongoing economic crisis, the rise in general unemployment, increased discrimination and negative press attention on Roma.
The added pressures on social service, welfare benefits and training for employment budgets all significantly increase the risk for Roma of remaining unemployed and living in poverty.
Often Roma people are held responsible for their own situation, the Draft Joint Employment Report 2004/2005, recognises this – “The burden is often placed on individuals to adapt rather than addressing wider issues of discrimination in society at large. The Roma or migrants often seem to be portrayed largely as responsible for their labour market exclusion”. This situation results in even worse treatment of Roma people and the lack of encouraging policies on the national level.
Roma people living in the URBACT ROMA-NeT project partner cities are seriously affected by unemployment, often long term unemployment and systemic exclusion from the labour market and from jobs. Practitioners from the Partner cities who have experience and learning to share in this field were invited to participate in the third ROMA-NeT transnational learning cluster and to work with experts on the following overall theme of Building a transitional labour market – creating, supporting and using an intermediate labour market; the role of the social economy/ social firms ; justification using social accounting and audit. Find the results of this event here.
Ann Morton Hyde
ROMA-NeT Lead Expert