In October 2019, the Maribor AEC launched a pilot project Social Activation Programme for Women from Other Cultural Environments: Living Actively in Slovenia, Lot 2. The project is a response to the large increase in foreign nationals from third countries, especially in the Podravska region. The share of Albanian women is becoming statistically significant, as their number in the area of Maribor, Ptuj and Slovenska Bistrica almost doubled in the years from 2016 to 2019. This population, whose main motive for moving is family reunification, is becoming our very important target group.

The Social Activation project is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the EU from ESF funds. The participants are predominantly wives of Kosovo construction workers, the latter having permanent residence in Slovenia or Slovenian citizenship. In the new environment, their wives face language barriers and are not familiar with the functioning of the public system in Slovenia. As their husbands are frequently absent, they take on family responsibilities and thus remain financially inactive, usually overlooked in the local social environment.

With the Social Activation programme to empowerment and employment

With its integrated approach and activities, the Social Activation Programme enables participants to strengthen their social inclusion in the broader social environment, develop communication skills in the Slovenian language, acquire social and functional competence with purpose to be able to actively solve their specific life and social problems. They also increase their employment opportunities. At least 288 educational hours and additional weekly individual work with participants is carried out in the programme.

In a 96-hour practical training at the employers where they are being supported by a mentor, the Social Activation programme allows participants with mostly no formal work experience to be introduced to the work process and gain practical experience which they will benefit from in the real labour market. At Maribor AEC we strive to cooperate with various employers. So far, the training has taken place in nursing homes (for the professions of presser/hand-launderer, waitress/cleaner and kitchen staff) and in cleaning services. As the needs for staff in the field of cleaning services are high, participants fill this gap perfectly.

In accordance with the performance criteria, the participants proved to be orderly, reliable and efficient workers. They knew how to follow work instructions and quickly mastered work procedures. At the same time, they improved their knowledge of the Slovenian language and became more self-confident. Based on experiences they gained in the programme, some of them got jobs as cleaners after leaving the Social Activation programme.

The project will end in September 2022. Until its ending, three more implementations of the programme are planned, which will enable many participants to acquire competence to facilitate their progress in the new living environment.

Maja Sedevčič (, Maribor AEC

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