Supporting implementation of Hungary’s national social inclusion strategy (2011), a training and employment programme cofinanced by the European Social Fund has recently been launched with a budget of EUR 5.3 million and EUR 4.9 million, respectively. It is coordinated by a consortium of the National Roma Council (NRC) and the Türr István Training and Research Institute (TKKI) ( ). The programme provides training and employment opportunities for 1000 low-educated and unemployed or inactive Romani women in the social and childcare sectors.

Like in many other European countries, Roma people in Hungary struggle with a lack of job opportunities, deep poverty and significant discrimination. About 500 000-600 000 people, the vast majority of the total Roma population (estimated at 750 000), live in deep poverty. In 2011, only a quarter of Roma aged 15-64 were employed. However, there is a high rate of casual work and informal or hidden employment, characterised by high insecurity and a significantly lower income level. Ultimately, low employment rates can be attributed to low educational attainment: 85% of the adult Roma population have at most lower secondary level qualification (certificate of completing eight years of schooling). Discrimination also increasingly limits labour market opportunities for Roma.

On account of their ethnic background and gender, Roma women are even more disadvantaged: their employment rate is only around 13 to 16%, and the proportion of Roma women with at most lower secondary qualification is two to five times higher than that of non-Roma. Providing state-supported training and employment opportunities for them is therefore of utmost importance. It would not only improve their labour market position but also increase their social integration. By training women specifically for jobs in the childcare and social sectors (such as nursery assistants, social helpers, social care and nursing), the programme also aims to increase common trust and improve relations between Roma communities and education and social institutions.

The 1000 training programme participants are selected from among job-seeker and inactive Roma women with outdated vocational qualifications or at most lower secondary certificates. They get a living allowance and free transportation for the time of training. About 750 of them are expected to obtain a qualification. Their subsequent employment is financially supported for another year. Employers are obliged to provide at least three further months of employment after that. Mentors are available to assist participants throughout the whole process, from submitting an application through training to finding employment. Continuous mentoring – as previous experiences have shown – largely increases the success of such programmes.

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