EPEKA, social enterprise, continues its mission of connecting youth work, social entrepreneurship and integrating the Roma minority in its project “Youth with less opportunities finding work with youth work (Fair employment)”. In the project we will teach and train young people with fewer opportunities with a wide array of activities and informal learning practices so that they will acquire new learning competences, which are necessary to find employment or to start on their own path of social entrepreneurship.

“Youth with less opportunities finding work with youth work” is a 27 month long project. EPEKA, soc. e., will carry out numerous learning programmes, training courses, meetings, round tables, etc., in 6 Slovenian regions — 4 in the eastern part and 2 in the western part of Slovenia. We will include 60 young people with fewer opportunities (45 from the Western region and 15 from the Eastern) and as a consequence of the project we will achieve 32 new employments.

According to the statistics of the Employment Service of Slovenia for July 2016 there were 7.689 unemployed people aged 15-24 years and 12.858 aged 25-29 years. There is no in-depth statistic for young people showing the duration of their unemployment, gender, age and education. According to surveys and statistics that Epeka, soc. e., has gathered we can clearly see that the majority of long-term unemployed consists of young people with low education, especially women and members of ethnic minorities, Roma and other marginal groups. There are many reasons for Roma unemployment, but the most prominent are: discrimination, racism, intolerance, segregation, “antigypsism” and so on. According to some data members of the Roma community are 17-times more likely to become permanently unemployable than members of the general population.

EPEKA, soc. e., planned the project “Youth with less opportunities finding work with youth work (Fair employment)” to educate and train young people with fewer opportunities with the intention to:

— ensure employment to young people with fewer opportunities through youth work in different organisations, gathering experiences in social enterprises and including them in workshops and other activities that employ methods of informal learning;
— provide all necessary support to social integration of young Roma men and women through youth work with the goal of finding later employment;
— educate and empower young people with fewer opportunities in the field of international youth work, active citizenship, volunteering, promoting intercultural dialogue and EU values etc.;
— use the methods of social entrepreneurship in combination with youth work as a means to achieve economic growth with a specific product and also to use the profits of these activities for the public good and for encouraging employment of young people with fewer opportunities.

Within the project it is especially important to educate and inform public institutions and employees on the local, national and European level, in formal learning and other institutions, which are connected with the problems we face but we have yet been unable to reach them. There are many reasons for this: lack of awareness about youth with fewer opportunities, about the importance of informal learning methods and social entrepreneurship strategies, many formal education institutions don’t provide experiences necessary for jobs, etc. Another very important goal of the project is to inform political decision makers, bureaucrats and others about the status of a youth worker, which needs far greater recognition as it is a crucial vocation for youth with fewer opportunities in social integration.

The project is thus aimed both at youth with fewer opportunities and at public institutions. With the activities we will organize during the project young people with fewer opportunities will gain new competences, proficiency, knowledge, increased self-confidence and many other skills crucial for entering the job market and finding employment. They will also connect with public institutions, exchange experiences and opinions with them and consequently both will gain new knowledge and views attributing to the improvement of the position of youth. Through our history of working with youth we have realized that social entrepreneurship combined with youth work is the right approach for fighting unemployment, improving society as a whole, contributing to the public good and democratization. We wish to build on our former practices and interconnect them on many levels. In our previous projects we discovered that most of the mistakes made are systemic and are a consequence of incomprehension and a lack of knowledge about the heart of the issues.