This is how we do it in Slovakia
The Social Impact Vouchers project is coming to the finals! And while it could be time to review and evaluate the results, we still have a lot of work to do. In upcoming months, we need to complete and fine-tune the model of voucher programs so that they are viable even after the end of the project.
We have an exciting year behind us, which has brought us a lot of experience, failures and successes, which is great, but how do we manage to make the idea of the SIV project a reality in Slovakia?
The past year has naturally been the most intensive in the implementation of the project. After a certain slowdown in 2020, we fully launched our voucher program in Slovakia this year. The primary target group in this program is (future) graduates in the labour market. Yet, in Slovakia, we have a long-term problem with youth unemployment, especially after graduating from secondary vocational school. Therefore, we decided to pilot coaching activities in the last months of study at secondary schools. The aim of the project was to work with this target group for a long time, capture it and then accompany it in the first months on the labour market.
Activities at secondary schools met with a positive response - from future graduates themselves, to teachers as well as from higher territorial units (which manage secondary vocational schools). We have thus successfully implemented activities at 15 secondary schools and thus have helped students prepare for gaining their first job. However, majority of the students were no longer interested in individual help in finding their first job. When examining the reasons, they most often stated that they wanted to enjoy the summer, they wanted to work part time and maybe they would go abroad. Well, not everything has to succeed- you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him a drink.
Another milestone was a series of voucher recruiting events. We primarily targeted our voucher recruiting events at job seekers from different disadvantaged groups – graduates, long-term unemployed, single parents etc. Naturally, the format of these events was also affected by the pandemic and took place only online. However, this allowed us to bring these events anywhere and to anyone. We conceived the voucher recruiting events as a combination of voucher program promotion, vacancies and interesting topics. So far, more than 300 participants have participated in our voucher recruiting events. Thanks to the success of this format, we will continue in webinars and online workshops in 2022. All these activities have also contributed to the growth of our community - either on the Facebook page or on our matching portal.
The end of the year belonged to intensive cooperation with social enterprises. Why social enterprises? In addition to appreciating their concept of operation, it is this type of business that employs a large proportion of disadvantaged groups. Our team approached every single social enterprise with an offer to participate in our voucher program.
The result is an ongoing cooperation with 15 social enterprises throughout Slovakia, including manufacturers of shoes, social services, construction, or mini-farms. This is just a small sample of employers we are currently helping to find the right employees from disadvantaged groups. Challenging assignments, but first job seekers are already applying their talent in new jobs.
In the last months of our project, many more milestones await us. The priority is the functioning of the fund - will we establish a new one? Or will we join forces with an established fund? All these questions will be answered in the coming months with the vision of building a functioning, meaningful and sustainable system that will help job seekers, employers, as well as society as a whole. Keep your fingers crossed for us, we are in the finals!