Social inclusion of the disadvantaged unemployed in Poland – new challenges ahead?

One of the greatest challenges for public policy with regards to NEETs is to reach out to those individuals who are not registered with Public Employment Services. In such cases, any public policy, even of the greatest quality, cannot improve the terms of participation in the labour market of the most disadvantaged groups. In relieving unemployment – often intertwined with poverty – employment offices must concentrate on finding the best ways to encourage the unemployed to register with PES and as a result, promote social inclusion.

As a part of the Youth Employment Partnership project, we wanted to explain why the majority of young unemployed people remain outside the registers of PES and which policies can be the most effective to encourage them to do so. Young people tend to have a negative perception of the activities of employment offices, and they are often reluctant to register as unemployed for fear of being stigmatized. At the same time, because employment offices engage in only modest promotional activities, information about the support they can provide does not reach some potential beneficiaries.

Indeed, as around 40% of economically inactive NEETs have said they are willing to work even though they are not currently looking for employment, the potential to provide them with support is high. Thus, it appears that PES employees rarely leave the office; that the networks of institutions employment offices cooperate with are relatively narrow; and that few offices are involved in permanent or organised forms of cooperation (e.g. with schools).

In the last few years, Poland has let in a historic influx of desperately needed foreign workers.This has been the single biggest migration of people from one European country to another in such a short space of time in recent history. The vast majority of new migrants is economically active, as the employment of better quality than in the homeland is the main reason they come to Poland. However, as more and more of them settle in Poland for good, this situation may change and some of them can become unemployed. Employment offices will be forced to adapt their strategies to encourage a new disadvantaged group to register with PES. This challenge has to be faced with all seriousness, as promoting participation in the labour market must include eliminating discrimination of migrants.


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