Inclusion Initiative is a German development cooperation project that supports inclusion of returnees and hard to employ groups into labor market. Implemented by the GIZ in partnership with the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, the Initiative works on strengthening capacities for inclusive employment on the local level.
The Initiative started by inviting cities, towns and municipalities to send project proposals – how to improve employment prospects of vulnerable persons. A total of 33 project ideas were sent. Going through a highly competitive process, seven most successful and sustainable projects have been selected: Požarevac, Arilje, Sokobanja, Kučevo, Novi Pazar, Bečej and Mladenovac.
The second step was implementation of project ideas. They were tailor-made to address economic and social circumstances of every municipality. Arilje and Sokobanja are, for instance, known as agriculture regions, so the project focused on the purchase of production equipment – trimers, green houses and tractors, thus helping farmers to work more productively. Novi Pazar and Požarevac worked on entrepreneurship promotion and organized trainings for tailors, briquetting and business planning. Sustainable waste management was the center of activities in Bečej and Kučevo and these municipalities purchased trucks, containers and recycling equipment. Finally, the municipality of Mladenovac initiated and implemented a home-care service for elderly.
Numerous other activities, such as employment subsidies, trainings, internships, psycho-social support and entrepreneurship fairs enabled people to gain skills and have access to employment that would otherwise be out of their reach.
The unique approach of the Inclusion Initiative lies in the diversity of implementing partners – every project is implemented by a joint team work of municipal authorities, civil society organizations and regional development agencies. Valuable support comes from local branches of the National Employment Service and Centers for Social Work. Municipalities provide the framework for project activities, regional development agencies advice on best employment perspectives, while civil society organization reach out to beneficiaries, making them familiar with project objectives. Success stories in this brochure represent the outcome of this fruitful cooperation.
Stories about people receiving support and ways how this changed their everyday life are the most poignant achievements of the Inclusion Initiative. German Development Cooperation together with Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities supported selected municipalities in piloting tailor-made approaches to social inclusion into labor market. Our joint efforts were monitored and supported by Steering Committee, with representatives from Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, National Employment Service, Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of Serbian Government. Lessons learned in this pilot project will be widely shared. They can also serve as an inspiration for other local self-governments in Serbia. We thank all partners and beneficiaries for the highly fruitful year of project activities behind us.