Czech Republic: Improving Employment Chances of the Roma
The majority of working age Roma residing in marginalized localities are not unemployed but are out of the labor force. The level of education attainment and skills acquired is a key predictor of labor market success of Roma. Roma in marginalized localities suffer from severely low educational attainment and a widespread lack of functional literacy. There is no upward educational mobility between generations, if anything the level of educational attainment among Roma appears to have been worsening since the start of the transition. The demand for low or unskilled labor is very low across the Czech Republic, especially in regions with many marginalized localities, and Roma often compete with foreign workers. Widespread indebtedness of Roma households in marginalized localities acts as a barrier to formal employment.
1. Overview: Towards a New Approach to Improve Employment Chances of the Roma
Roma in marginalized localities in the Czech Republic have not benefited from the recent improving employment opportunities in the Czech labor market. Employment among Roma is low and labor market participation limited, often driven by lacking labor market opportunities. The labor market status among the Roma is strongly driven by educational attainment and skills, and the vast majority of Roma in marginalized communities suffer from low attainment and lacking functional literacy and numeracy skills.
2. The Challenge: Access of Roma to Employment in the Czech Republic
Analysis of employment and unemployment patterns among Roma is difficult due to the lack of data disaggregated by ethnicity – in the Czech Republic as well as in other countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe . To fill this gap a specially designed Roma Labor Force Survey was carried out for this study in May 2008.
3. The Labor Market in the Czech Republic and Opportunities for low skilled workers
The Czech labor market has been performing strongly in recent years, and strong labor demand has driven down unemployment to record low levels – below 5 percent in early 2008. Most remaining unemployment in the Czech Republic is now of a long-term nature, suggesting that remaining unemployed face binding barriers to employment possibly due to lacking skills and work habits, disincentives or lack of motivation to look for work or other reasons such as discrimination.
4. Employment Incentives and the Social Welfare System
The motivation of the unemployed to seek formal employment depends crucially on whether work “pays” in comparison to the receipt of social benefits. In short, it needs to be obvious to beneficiaries that they become better off as a result of finding employment.
5. Public Employment Services and Employment Activation
Measures to “make work pay” are only one part of necessary inputs to enhancing access to employment for disadvantaged job-seekers – effective employment policies targeted at the disadvantaged job-seekers is the other. Many OECD countries have adopted a mutual obligation principle at the core of their employment activation policy which requires both enhanced cooperation from the job-seeker and improved service provision of the public employment services at the same time.
The Roma population in the Czech Republic is young, suggesting the need to focus particular attention on education and the school to work transition. Roma have been suffering from substantially worse education outcomes, being over-represented in schools for children with special needs and leaving school often with only nine years of schooling and less.