Equality of employment opportunities for young Roma is fair and just, but also a smart economic choice: It is an effective way to improve growth prospects and respond to the demographic challenge of rapidly ageing populations in EU Member States. Investing in young Roma breaks the cycle of poverty, discrimination and exclusion. It can yield high returns and can deliver the kind of lasting change that many policies and programmes have so far failed to achieve.
Juncker’s European Commission puts strong emphasis on ‘Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change’ that resulted for instance the youth employment initiative. However, these measures have difficulties to address hard-to-reach groups, including young Roma. Different actors responsible for implementing employment policies and measures, like employment offices, training consultancies and education centres, are not equipped to reach out to Roma and/or are affected by institutional racism and shortcomings. The lack of an ‘explicit but not exclusive’ approach for this mainstream policy leads to a mismatch between needs of Roma and opportunities the services offer.
Youth employment campaign
ERGO Network currently prepares a campaign, based on qualitative research in five EU member states, in order to mobilise support for investing in employment opportunities for young Roma. The message of the campaign will be centred on inspiring measures that have been “reality-tested” by young Roma themselves. They aim to convince decision-makers to support employment of young Roma and break the stigma that Roma do not want or can work. The campaign aims to make clear that young Roma want to work and can have opportunities, if sufficient investment is done and they receive the right support.
Also the 2017 ERGO Summer Academy focussed on youth employment and contribute to shaping the campaign for the next years.
EU unemployment of Roma youth
According to a survey of the Fundamental Rights Agency, 58% of Roma aged 16 to 24 are not in education, employment or training.
European Youth Guarantee
In 2015, ERGO Network and Fundacion Secretariado Gitanos undertook a fact-finding exercise on the impact of the Youth Guarantee on young Roma. We found that in countries with a large number of Roma, the Youth Guarantee did not reach those youngsters farthest from the labour market.