A local region without unemployment and discrimination: utopia?

From 20 to 21 June 2019 took place in Brussels and Namur a seminar about “A local region without unemployment and discrimination: utopia?”, organised by CET Namur (Centre Européen du Travail Namur), with the support of EZA and of the European Union.

The meeting of June 20th mostly addressed the question of the fight against discriminations and psychological or physical violence towards women. Gaëlle Demez, national manager of the CSC Women and Hafida Bachir, political secretary at Vie Féminine pointed out that these discriminations/violence are obstacles to the job search and the attribution of a quality job, to the access to training and the continuation of the job.

The question of the continuation of these inequalities also affects the question of solidarity between people, incomes security and more specifically the life of women.

The stereotypes still and always find it hard to die in the 21st century but also the fact that the political choices made by the governments in place make worse in general the situation of women who are already more disadvantaged than men.

The issue of domestic violence and its impact on the work, work-family balance and the wage gaps between men and women has also been addressed.

In conclusion of this day, several working areas were proposed:

  • The cultural work against stereotypes also in work fields with the help of awareness campaigns;
  • Public policies: we must work on a collective level and not individualise the answers, the approach must be comprehensive and respectful of the aspirations. A multidisciplinary analysis of the issues is required (gender, origin, economical);
  • To develop a strategy on the effectiveness of all women’s rights: a strategy by the duties applied, where failures are sanctioned.

In April 2016, 2.46 million of people in France were deprived of employment or in reduce activity for over a year. And currently, one-third of long term employed people have been without a steady job for over three years.

To fight against this scourge, the ATD association Quart Monde – joined by other stakeholders of the fight against exclusion (Emmaüs France, Secours populaire, Le Pacte civique…) – offers to long term employed people to find an occupation of permanent contract by answering to local needs not developed enough because sparsely solvent

ATD Quart Monde is based on a simple observation. On one hand, no one is unemployable:  every unemployed person has skills that can be useful to society. On the other hand, France does not lack of work but rather lacks of jobs. Furthermore, according to a study conducted by ATD Quart Monde, a long term unemployed person costs about 15.000 € to society in allowances and in shortfall, exclusive of the expenses linked to the unemployment insurance. In the entire French territory, le total cost in one year reaches 36 billion euros.

The objective of the seminar is the introduction of the experimentation « Territories zero long term unemployed (TZLTU).

This approach launched in January 2017 is to use allowances paid to long term unemployed in order to redirect them to the creation of jobs in the territories. The helps for unemployed people can thus be redirected towards “enterprises with employment aim”, charged with the creation of jobs that answer the needs that the market economy cannot fulfil. With a golden rule: the project lies on the creation of activities that do not compete with companies already existing.

Our seminar has shown that the search of a territorial dimension at ”micro” scale really close to practical grassroots realities could serve as implementing place to measures of social cohesion in favour on social economical insertion of long term unemployed by associating local authorities, social partners and the associative field.

To give answer on this topic, Eric Vanhuysse, director of Compétence et Emplois de la métropole de Lille, one of the protagonists  of the experimentation has presented the approach TZLTU and its local stakeholders.

Paul Timmermans, Chairman of the Chambre Emploi-Formation de l’Instance Bassin Hainaut-Sud has explained how this device could be implemented in French-speaking Belgium by associating it to public/private partnerships structured in “local Committees” represented by enterprises, public bodies and administrations, associations fighting against poverty, social economical insertion centres, local association, etc.

Afterward Belgian and European social partners (CSC, Union Wallonne des Entreprises, CFDT, Business Europe) have shared their views on the topic.

The representatives of the employers have highlighted that numerous positions were vacant and that they couldn’t find working force qualified enough to answer to the demand and before getting involved in a new initiative it would be more appropriate to use the already existing devices by reactivating them or adapting them to the needs of the market and the people.

The trade unions representatives answered the employers representatives were giving a speech too institutional and that they wouldn’t employ the TZLTU public anyway because of the lack of qualifications in regards of the market’s needs.

The afternoon was dedicated to the presentation of territorial development experiences in Barcelona, Spain and in the Region of Liguria in Italy.

Experiences and systems promoting the implementation of public/private partnerships in order to on one side fight against long term unemployment of public remote from the labour market and on the other side fight against school dropout by offering initiatives and training alternating between theory in school or in a training centre and practice in enterprise.

Three observations rule the TZLTU initiative

  1. No one is unemployable, everyone has skills and competences that are wasted because they are not exercised;
  2. There is no lack of work, it is employment that is lacking since numerous needs of society are not fulfilled;
  3. Money is not lacking since every year, long term unemployment leads to expenses and shortfall that the collectivity undertakes.

The implementation of the experimentation mobilises 4 principles of action which delineate its functioning:

  1. A voluntary adhesion of people deprived of employment;
  2. Starting from the competences and wishes of people;
  3. A strong link with the territory;
  4. Participation in the work place as an experience.

In conclusion, the project is a perfect example of a social experimentation which establishes a network of integrated services in order to take into consideration the needs of each individual who is consulted beforehand. Furthermore, it is a project based on the principle of partnership and aimed at creating employment which allows to ensure the integration on the labour market and to regain their place in society.