PirotProblem of the employment of young people belonging to vulnerable populations is impossible to solve without the help of employers. That is why it is necessary that the representatives of companies, public enterprises, and institutions are informed about the programmes and funds which provide incentives for the employers who hire young people from vulnerable populations. The workshops for prospective employers in Pirot presented the results so far achieved by the “A Step to Employment” project aimed at enhancing the employability of young people belonging to vulnerable populations, with a special focus on the Roma population.

“Prospective employers have been presented the project results as well as their potential benefits from the project as such. The invitees to the five workshops that were held included the representatives of public enterprises, companies, institutions, media, schools, etc., which means all interested to join in the continuation of the ”Education to Employment” programme later on”, Radmila Nešić, the President of ”Ternipe” Citizens’ Association, said.


Within the ”A Step to Employment” project, 23 Roma women from Pirot attended training for the profiles of gardener, pastry maker, beautician, and carer for the elderly. The continuation of the project is planned for autumn.

“A Step to Employment” project is, as a part of the “Education to Employment” programme, implemented by ”Ternipe” association in partnership with ”Osveženje” association and supported by the team  of the Government of Serbia and the Pirot County Contracting Chamber of Commerce.

“Employers are provided all required information about on-the-job training. New call is not only for the members of Roma minority, but also for all hard-to-place populations. It is one of options for local economic development of this town”, Radmila Nešić said.


She said that employers in public enterprises do need more staff but the problem is that the ordinance of hiring freeze in public sector is still in force.

“We will try to ensure that women who have completed the training through the measures provided by the City of Pirot are hired.  This will be beneficial for all these trainees as well as for the PE and institutions which need additional staff”, the representative of ”Ternipe” citizens’ association said.


Gordana Simonović Veljković , an associate of ”Ternipe” association, spoke at one workshop for prospective employers about employment possibilities for Roma.

“Compared with general characteristics of the target group in Serbia, Roma population in Pirot stands out with its almost hundred percent coverage of children in primary education and good living conditions, as well as with its high motivation to do operator jobs”, Gordana Simonović Veljković said.


She added that Roma population is increasingly more involved in the use of active labour market programmes.

“In 2011, for example, only seven Roma were included in above programmes, and in 2015 this number grew to 75 and is continuously growing. PPP projects and programmes are of utmost importance for Roma, as well as other members of vulnerable populations. Namely, these programmes at the same time increase the employability of these populations and reduce related stereotypes and prejudices. This we had seen with our own eyes when we heard employers from Pirot speaking about their cooperation with Roma on this project”, Gordana Simonović Veljković said.


“A Step to Employment” project, which is a part of the “Education to Employment” project, is implemented by ”Ternipe” association in partnership with ”Osveženje” association and Job Info Centre, with the support of the Serbian Government and the Pirot County Contracting Chamber of Commerce. The programme is a result of cooperation between the Serbian and Swiss Governments.

Pirot as an example of good practice

“People who had the opportunity to hire or train the Roma to speak about how interested Roma people are to do a job, about their high level of business ethics and good energy they brought to the work environment. Unfortunately, there are still those who are skeptical and harbor prejudices. However, we will continue our work and feel positive that together we will achieve good results and that Pirot will continue to be an example of good practice when it comes to the support to vulnerable populations” Gordana Simonović Veljković said.


From a skill to a profession

“Some of the Roma women who underwent the training for pastry makers and beauticians are now starting businesses of their own or are working already – which is all good. We will empower them to prepare a business plan and to see what is expected of them. This training is finished but it will be followed by a new one about how to search for a job actively. All trainees will get references from employers. Project results cannot be expected at this very moment – in several months, or a year, maybe. The most important thing is that all of them have acquired skills and knowledge because they had finished primary school only or no school at all. Now they have their own profession” Radmila Nešić said.