CVEK: Roma Unemployment Requires Education, Not Forced Labour

(stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, April 6 (TASR) – Addressing unemployment among the Roma community and increasing their chances on the labour market won’t be achieved by forcing the Roma to work in order to receive social benefits, but by systematic development of their skills and opportunities, stated two non-profit organisations on Thursday.

The organisations concerned are the Centre for Research into Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK) and the Skalica-based (Trnava region) Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (RAVS).

At a press conference held earlier in the day, CVEK and RAVS representatives presented the results of a study aimed at gauging the effectiveness of measures that oblige the Roma to carry out work in order to receive social benefits.

CVEK representative Jarmila Lajcakova explained that the study was drawn up according to the results of the organisations’ own survey, which was conducted in 2016 in six areas around Slovakia. The two organisations also used existing data from previous research in this regard.

The authors of the study, Lajcakova and CVEK researcher Jana Kadlecikova, pointed out that the current policy of so-called forced labour, which means the obligation to work in order to receive social benefits, is based on the assumption that it will encourage the community concerned to acquire good working habits and will help them to find a permanent job. Moreover, mandatory work is supposed to be a way of showing that nobody gets anything for free, stated Lajcakova.

However, the findings of the research showed that this policy doesn’t lead to progress among the Roma, as it doesn’t increase their chances of finding a job. It’s an unsuccessful attempt to re-educate the Roma, instead, stated the CVEK researcher.

Lajcakova went on to say that the policy that requires and determines the type of work that has to be done creates local power inequalities. Moreover, people in material need often carry out small services for the village for much lower reward than regular employees would receive for the same work, she said.

“The number of those who carry out these services changes from month to month, there is a lack of systematic work with them or opportunity for the personal development of such people. The root of the problem, which is based on the Roma’s low level of skills and education, isn’t being addressed,” said Lajcakova.

CVEK and RAVS, therefore, want the current policy to be complemented by systematic elements that would enable the Roma to develop, help them to complete their education, upgrade their education or skills and offer them a vision of how to find a proper job.

The study was carried out to mark International Roma Day (April 8).