The Equal Community Initiative is a programme implemented since 2001 in 25 European Union Member States, financed by the European Social Fund and directly by the budgets of the participant states.
The EQUAL Community Initiative is part of the European Union's strategy for more and better jobs and their wide accessibility. EQUAL is financed from the resources of the European Social Fund and the budgets of the states participating in its implementation.
The main objective of the EQUAL initiative is testing and supporting new ways of combating all forms of discrimination and inequality in the labour market, resulting e.g. from gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion, views, disability, age or sexual orientation, both towards persons in employment and those seeking work.
The EQUAL initiative in Poland, complementing the National Development Plan, is pursued by Development Partnerships, selected by means of a contest. EQUAL provides examples of good practice and innovative solutions, which thanks to international cooperation and effective popularizing actions can be implemented in many EU states. The most important elements of the EQUAL Programme include: thematic approach, partnership, involvement of the discriminated groups in the actions of the partnerships (empowerment), transnational cooperation, innovativeness and mainstreaming.
The effectiveness of the EQUAL Programme is not measured by the number of supported beneficiaries, but the quality of the developed innovative models (results) which will be commonly implemented in labour markets.
The scope of the Community Initiative in Poland includes five themes:
Theme A: Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone
The objective of the theme is developing mechanisms of equalizing employment chances of those social groups which experience inequality due to their lack of qualifications and low education, and ensuring their participation in the development of the information society. The theme focuses on problems related to inequality and discrimination in the labour market encountered by persons living in rural areas and regions undergoing processes.
Theme D: Strengthening the national social economy (the third sector), in particular the services of interest to the community, with a focus on improving the quality of jobs
The objective of the theme is supporting the development of the Polish model of social economy by participating in the process of defining the role and tasks of the social economy in increasing the attractiveness of the local labour and services markets, complementing and strengthening the activities undertaken within the national policy. Developing the methods of involving local communities in the process of using the social economy instruments in the vocational activation of groups threatened with exclusion from the labour market and revitalization of the local labour markets plays a particularly important role in the theme.
Theme F: Supporting the adaptability of firms and employees to structural economic changes and the use of information technology and other new technologies
The objective of this theme is facilitating and supporting the introduction of new technologies and innovative information and communication solutions. The solutions are to increase the competitiveness of firms and raise the awareness of employers with regard to the necessity of continuous training of the managerial staff and employees in order to ensure the development of the firms and maintaining workplaces (particularly in the case of employees more advanced in age and women).
Theme G: Reconciling family and professional life, as well as the reintegration of men and women who have left the labour market, by developing more flexible and effective forms of work organisation and support services
The objective of the theme is developing model solutions to help reconcile family and professional life, including the support of institutions offering child care and care over employees' dependent persons, helping employees improve qualifications and promotion of flexible forms of employment and work organisation.
Theme I: Supporting the social and vocational integration of asylum - seekers
The objective of the theme is improving the system of institutional care offered to asylum - seekers, development of analyses and researches aimed at diagnosing and offering prognoses of the phenomenon of refugees' influx and social education regardin coexistence of cultures.
The EQUAL Initiative helps predict the directions of changes occurring in the labour market and provides new tools of monitoring, preventing and solving the diagnosed problems. The complete success of the EQUAL activities depends on the wide use of the results and experiences of Development Partnerships in the definition of directions and manners of implementing the employment policies at the national, regional and local levels and influencing the practices of organisations and institutions.
The result, to be implemented by local social services, will contribute to the growing effectiveness of assistance activities and change of their profile. Implementation of the method requires active social work, psychological support and assisting families in their attempts to solve problems of various types. Thanks to the initiative the beneficiaries, so far using only passive forms of social assistance (allowances, assistance in kind) will be motivated to undertake more intensive social activities, supplement their qualifications and take paid employment.more
Job rotation is an innovative tool used to support the development of enterprises, improve qualifications and create new jobs. The implementation of the system stimulates development and growth of competitiveness of enterprises (improvement of qualifications of the personnel, access to new and reliable employees), exerts a positive influence on the situation of employees on the job market, and contributes to the increased activation of the unemployed.more