Dream to Grow: is European Labour Market a Place for All?

How to make Europe’s labour markets a place for all – this was the topic for discussion during the online event organized by the Romani Early Years Network (REYN) and ERGO Network on 7 October 2020. The networks hosted a virtual human library, where Roma professionals from Italy, Scotland, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Belgium and Romania told their stories and shared their experiences on how to dream big and achieve goals, regardless the circumstances.

“We were travelling around Scotland, living on camps and obviously it caused a lot of barriers for me trying to get an education because there is a lot of racism towards Roma and Traveller people,” says Davie from Scotland. “When I got into school, one teacher even said that it would be a waste of school resources because I was a gypsy and I would not do with education anything anyway.”

This institutionalized attitude that exists in many countries prevents Roma and Traveller people to get employed and to achieve their professional goals.

“Diversity is important, but it is far from being panacea for all the visible and invisible manifestations of systemic racism faced by Roma. To be able to achieve justice, anti-racism institutions, private companies, other entities and schools and our European society as a whole need to be ready to recognize, to understand and to address all the power imbalances, the history of injustice, the policies and laws, procedures, the norms and standards,” says Margareta Matache, director at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights’ Roma Program and Harvard instructor.

Not all the time the needs of Roma communities are reflected in either national or EU policies and strategies and not all the time these needs are captured in essential documents.

“Then we are asking ourselves why we are failing if we gave Roma access to school, water, a place to live, electricity… But to be honest, we forget one thing. Perhaps, we really gave them all, but we never asked them if this is what they need, we never asked them to take part in creating their future, and we very often forget that what we think is right for them is not necessarily what they really need. By building a dialog and by involving them in all processes, we can move forward towards a more inclusive and responsive future!” reassures Aljosa Rudas, Program Officer and REYN International Coordinator at ISSA.

Regardless of the circumstances, people can succeed, and the stories of the Roma professionals told during the event were a good example of that.

“People succeeded despite of the system, and not thanks to the system. When we asked how they succeeded, they did not mention particular policies or diversity measures. They mentioned that it was an institution, an organization or an individualthat came and gave them a little tiny nudge” concluds Stanislav Daniel, co-chair of ERGO Network.

Stay tuned and follow REYN #DreamtoGrow and ERGO #APlace4All campaigns on the social media.

Get inspired by the video stories of our human books and the event’s main speakers here.