October 23

The City of Niš, within the framework of the Program “Support to EU Roma Inclusion – Empowering Local Communities for Roma Inclusion”, implements the project “Nis Employment Action for Roma – NEAR”. Multiple forms of social exclusion of Roma are one of the most important issues for the Republic of Serbia on its path to the EU and sustainable economic development. Roma, women and men, experience severe poverty and social exclusion. Low levels of education and skills, accompanied by discrimination, have led to long-term unemployment for Roma. A direct obstacle to Roma inclusion in the formal labor market is related to their emancipation in the fields of education, housing and participation in public affairs. In Nis, the Roma unemployment rate is four times higher than the general population average, only 9% of Roma in Nis have a steady income from work, and only 2.5% of Roma women are full-time employed. The greatest responsibility for implementing individual measures within the most relevant strategic framework rests with public authorities at the national level – according to the Strategy for Social Inclusion of Roma in the Republic of Serbia 2016-2025 and at the local level – Local Action Plan for Improving the Position of Roma in Niš 2017-2019 which foresees employment and self-employment of Roma on the basis of training and retraining for new jobs, gaining additional qualifications and incentives for entrepreneurship, setting up social cooperatives and social enterprises. This approach is based on the Nis City Development Strategy and is supported by the findings of the Roma survey, which there are officially 6,996 according to 2011census, but this number is estimated to be at least three times higher. The main activities of the project are: providing tailored active employment measures; establishing public/private/civil partnerships and market links; events called “Accelerate Social Inclusion”. The expected results of the project are organized two-month business training and mentoring for 40 selected Roma beneficiaries, as well as employment of 20 Roma among unemployed or entrepreneurs with six months paid internships in local SMEs or with grants to assist in employment, active work on public/private/civil partnership to create more jobs, as well as organizing at least three local social events organized for the Roma population/NGOs and local institutions.