30. 11. 2016 Pontis Foundation

A unique project addresses the integration of the Roma into the employment process

László Juhász the author of the project will be the main speaker on Friday’s Action Oriented Forum.

The issue of economic and social inclusion of Roma has been resounding around Slovakia for a long time. The same problem also occurs in neighbouring Hungary, where the Roma minority is the most numerous. The Hungarian branch of the international company Boston Consulting Group (BCG) wanted to contribute towards solving it. The result is Integrom, a successful program that facilitates and increases the chances of employment for Roma with higher education. László Juhász, leader of the program as well as CEO of the Hungarian branch of BCG will tell us more about its beginnings and settings.

How did the idea of Integroma come about?

The idea of Integrom comes from the workshop of the Budapest branch of BCG. Our company has a wealth of experience with global initiatives that have a social impact. In 2012, on the 50th anniversary of BCG, our branch decided to create a unique program. We wanted a sustainable way to address some of the fundamental problems raised that vex Hungarian society. Together with my colleagues, we identified the integration of Roma as the greatest challenge. This is a very broad issue, so we decided to focus on the areas in which BCG may bring the greatest added value – creating a “bridge” between Roma job seekers and our broad network of business partners.

Could you briefly describe how the program works and what are the criteria of the successful participants?

The applicants should be young Roma that have at least completed their secondary school education. The condition is at least basic IT skills and desire to work on themselves.

The program has 5 key phases:

  1. Search for potential job seekers and job offers
  2. Candidate training
  3. Support during the “placement” of candidates for vacancies
  4. Support during employment
  5. Evaluation and Next steps

What obstacles do you encounter while communicating with potential employers and how do you approach them?

Today, we see a number of major obstacles in the employment of educated Roma in the labour market. It is a great mistake to think that the “more educated” groups do not need any help and support. They are constantly faced with problems that prevent them from gaining access to the same opportunities as those enjoyed by their peers.

Firstly, the Roma usually graduate from less prestigious schools, except perhaps a small circle of artists, and the scope of their professional knowledge is relatively narrow. In addition, many opt for studies which are admittedly closer to their heart but do not guarantee them a job and a stable income. For example, social work. Many of them gain some work experience during their studies, but those are mostly simple jobs that do not help them in gaining employment, let’s for example say, in corporations.

Another factor is the geographical aspect – the majority of these people live beyond economically developed areas. And because they do not have enough money, it is very difficult for them to move from one part of the country to another.

The problem can be summed up quite simply – a high rate of poverty among the Roma results in low self-esteem and a lack of successful role models for future generations. So they often face discrimination from potential employers. Considering all these facts, even educated Roma face serious difficulties in finding suitable employment. A study from 2011 says that 58% of Roma with secondary and 43% of university graduates cannot find work.

How does your company benefit from this? Where do you see the most added value?

Several international awards that we have received, highlight the importance of the topic and the uniqueness of our solutions. Late last year, Integrom ranked among the top 11 inclusive projects that were presented at Harvard University’s Symposium on Inclusive Growth & Development. This year we received the SozialMarie award and were counted among the top 15 most innovative social projects in Central Europe.

Do you have specific examples of successful graduates of your program?

For example, 24-year-old Richard had been unemployed for 6 months before entering the program. He studied IT at a smaller university, he was involved in several non-profit projects, but had to drop out of his studies due to financial reasons. He tried to apply for work in several companies, but often he did not even qualify for an interview due to a lack of work experience, unfinished studies, and often, unfortunately because of discrimination as well. For these reasons, he could not decide what he wanted to do in life. Thanks to Integrom Richard got a job in one of the largest banks in the capital, in the IT support department. He learned how to write a resume, sharpened his communication skills, we prepared him for an interview and put him in touch with the HR manager who was in charge of the relevant positions. Finally, it turned out that the only thing Richard needed was our support.

 László Juhász will be the main speaker on Action Oriented Forum, which will take place this Friday in Poprad. The topic of the event will be the needs of companies in dealing with the employment of marginalized Roma. If you are interested in attending this event, please contact us at barbora.palesova@nadaciapontis.sk or call 0918 595 909.

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