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[DEV-L:73] integrating the economically disadvantaged into t
Please excuse cross-postings of this request for help relating to the
integration of economically disadvantaged individuals into the labour
I have been asked by an international journal dealing with social work
(Service social dans le monde) to rapidly prepare a very, very short
synopsis of "insertion par l'économique" policies and programmes in Canada
(outside of Québec) and in the United States. I would appreciate comments
from members of this list in order to verify my view of the situation.
The expression "insertion par l'économique" literally means "insertion
using economic means". It refers to policies, programmes and practices
that try to reverse the process of exclusion by using labour market entry
programmes based on incremental steps and integrated, multi-dimensional
strategies. Such programmes are based on the idea that poverty is a
process (as opposed to a state of being) and that it results in excluding
individuals both economically (exclusion from the work force) and socially
(disaffiliation from networks and resources. Intervention must thus occur
simultaneously on both social and economic levels. These practices
generally target a continuum of beneficiaries caught up in the process of
exclusion: the persistently unemployed, the dependent poor, and the
indigent. Some will also (although very rarely) be directed towards the
working poor and the short-term unemployed.
In French-speaking countries, the « entreprise d'insertion » model is
usually given as an example of how such an approach operates. (In English,
this model is often referred to as a training business.) The social
integration framework in the training businesses is generally provided by
an on-site educator using groupwork methods and financed with public funds,
while the plant, office or store is run by managers with production, not
social work, skills, and whose operations are generally financed by
revenues from sales. This blending of on-the-job training and social
intervention works, in part, because of peer support - and peer pressure -
provided by co-workers. In Québec, two and three years after leaving these
hybrid programs, 80% of the "graduates" are still at work in jobs found
after leaving the training businesss or studying somewhere. Some training
businesses are in manufacturing, more than a few are restaurants and
caterers, others operate as general cleaning and maintenance services.
There are currently over 1,000 of these in France and about 45 in Québec.
Although there are a few examples of this particular model in Canada
(outside of Québec) and in the United States, there are no state-funded
programmes to specifically support training businesses.
Question: Is the preceding statement accurate? If not, what would be
examples of state-funded programmes for training businesses?
There are, however, other very similar models. Among these are youth
service co-operatives in Ontario that enable teens to participate as
worker-owners of a co-op during the summer months.
Question: Are there other examples?
Other programmes share similar objectives and target the same population
groups but from a different vantage point. These can be categorized as
a) work/study programmes to reduce the number high school dropouts by
providing on-site education in actual workplaces;
b) job training and placement programmes: competency-based skills training
(job and life skills development); enterprise-related training (skills
tailored to business needs); outreach, counseling and referral; placement;
c) self-employment training and support: training-based (business and
micro-enterprise development); finance-based development (peer-lending loan
circles; community development loan funds); integrated models;
d) job-oriented social entrepreneurship development: development of
non-profit entrepreneurial ventures that create real jobs for local people,
that generate revenue from the production of goods and services, that do
not distribute profits to shareholders, and whose stakeholders and
shareholders have social benefits as a primary purpose (sometimes referred
to as community enterprises or as social economy initiatives or, when they
receive some State funding, as community partnerships);
e) sector-based economic (or sectoral employment) development strategies:
business development that attempts to tap into specific markets that
require the existing skills of economically disadvantaged individuals (for
example, home care services for the elderly).
Since most of these practices are funded on a state, province, or local
basis, no overall inventory currently exists.
Question: Do these categories reflect the overall picture and is the last
In recent years, welfare-to-work demonstration projects have been developed
in every state and province in order to integrate individuals receiving
public assistance into the labour market and many of these have given way
to full-fledged programmes. Many welfare-to-work programmes are
co-ordinated or managed by community-based, nonprofit organizations while
others are made available to conventional, for-profit firms. These
initiatives quite often provide services that could be expected from public
programmes and, as such, are hence severely criticized for creating a
bastion of cheap labour in ghettos of poor-paying, low-benefit jobs (for
women especially) or, at the very least, for playing into the hands of
governments seeking to disinvest themselves of their social
responsibilities. Progressive individuals in favour of these approaches,
believe that they are the first steps of a new type of an economy based on
Polanyian principles of reciprocity or on those of a classical social
economy. Those who advocate for them on the conservative side usually seek
to reduce welfare dependency and argue that public assistance rolls have
diminished, especially in the United States since the proclamation of the
federal welfare reform bill in 1996 (although no formal tie between
workfare programmes and these reductions has yet been established). [In
England, openings for quasi-public jobs served by social enterprises are
reserved for individuals receiving public assistance in what are known as
"intermediate labour market development" strategies.]
Question: Does the preceding accurately reflect the reality of these
programmes? If not, what should be changed?
Asset management programmes are also being experimented as means of
enabling the poor to exert some control over economic resources. Examples
of these are individual development accounts (that allow recipients of
public assistance to save for education, home ownership or to start a
business without being penalized).
Question: Are there other asset management programmes that target individuals?
Many of these programmes overlap and few, if any, are co-ordinated at the
local level. Some are, however, integrated into a broader, comprehensive
local economic development framework. Local development organizations such
as community development corporations (CDCs) will occasionally see these
activities as part of a continuum of practices that may include community
organizing, housing development, entrepreneurship training, and
conventional business development over and above some of the aforementioned
programmes. For example, some CDCs and similar groups promote local hiring
by using employees of existing firms and other contacts as local job
"brokers" for the individuals in the skills development programmes. Such
integrated practices are, however, quite rare.
Question: Is this portrait complete?
Merci beaucoup in advance for any assistance in answering these questions.
Comments would also be most appreciated and references essential.
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