Education and employment opportunities for the Roma

The Roma more than anyone else lost out in the transition to the market economy in
the countries of Central and South Eastern Europe. Their unemployment rate is 100
per cent in some rural areas and the Roma’s dependence on government benefits is
widespread. This article takes a look at unemployment and employment among the
Roma on the basis of two surveys completed in 2002 and 2004. It is shown that lack
of formal education cannot provide a full explanation of the relatively high
unemployment rates faced by Roma and that at least part of the problem arises from
discrimination in employment. Roma are also disproportionately employed in
low-quality jobs in the informal sector. The paper argues that programmes aimed at
combatting labour market and income disadvantages of the Roma must be based on
the development of opportunities for autonomous income generation rather than
the public works temporary employment programmes currently prevalent.

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