The Program launched by Center for Policy Studies (CPS) at the Central European University (CEU) is designed to help young Roma intellectuals build their professional skills and promote their engagement in public affairs. The aim of the program is to create four, maximum one-year-long employment opportunities for graduates of Roma origin at no-for-profit organizations in Macedonia and Serbia. It also intends to support these organizations in mainstreaming equality and social diversity in their employment and staff-building practices. The ultimate goal is to make the Roma part of the regular staff of mainstream organizations working in different fields of public affairs. The program is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.
To identify the beneficiaries, we announced two calls: one for the organizations and another one for the Roma graduates. Applications could be submitted by MA graduates from social sciences, law, economics, and management sciences. Three young Roma from each country were shortlisted and then interviewed via Skype. We selected two fellows in both countries and invited them to take part in our program. Parallel to the individual selection, we reviewed the applications of the organizations and started the matching process. We targeted organizations whose major interest is around social services, human rights, social inclusion but in no case centered on the Roma. The "matching" work considered the Roma graduates' interests and experience against the human resource needs of the organization. Each "matching" ended with an invitation for interview, which took place among the three parties: the University, the Organization and the selected young Roma professional.
Responsibilities of the partner organizations are defined on the basis of the following objectives:
• To develop the culture for an equality and diversity conscious employment and working environment, with special respect to gender and ethnicity;
• To help young Roma professionals integrate into mainstream social affairs and institutions;
• To support and promote institutional practices, attitudes and activities which embrace equality and diversity as well as work towards an increased and enhanced workplace diversity;
• To critically evaluate employment experience.
The employment started for each selected Roma professionals at the beginning of May 2015. Prior to their departure the young Roma professionals attended a 2-day long training in Budapest at CEU. During those two days we explored and mapped the future working environments (their history, structure, type, challenges, opportunities) as well as the place of the young Roma professional in them. The training served as an opportunity for the young Roma professionals to get acquainted with the project and to gain first-hand experience of the nature of support they would be receiving from CEU as an institution and from their mentors. Throughout the very intense training period, questions regarding various issues related to their employment in a mainstream organization were discussed with the mentors and invited professionals. The highly supportive atmosphere of the training gave the young professionals a sense of belonging and a good basis for a successful mentoring relationship with CEU’s Center for Policy Studies, as well as a community of mutual support among the young professionals. At the end of the training we jointly formulated a Memorandum of Understanding between CEU and the young Roma professionals on the basis of the following objectives:
The project is a common learning process about inclusive institutional and employment practices in the target countries and beyond;
Formal labor relations are regulated by an employment contract between the host organizations and the Young Professionals yet the broader norms of these employment relations are continuously monitored and discussed in a triangle of the host institution, the CEU and the Young Professionals.
Introducing the young Roma professionals and the host organizations
Dzenifer Dzeladin (Skopje, Macedonia) is an expert in human rights and works for the Institute for Human Rights.
Miranda Ramova (Skopje, Macedonia) is an expert in gender studies and works for LaStrada.
Sanela Bahtijarevic (Belgrade, Serbia) is a political scientist and works for CELAP .
Marija Stankovic (Belgrade, Serbia) is a social scientist and works for Public Policy Research Center.
Thanks to the financial support of NED, the host institutions are compensated for the full employment costs of the new employees. The host organizations will make the effort to expand the 8 months employment by additional 4 months on the basis of their own financial sources.