Without a doubt – and that was not only confirmed by the latest EU Roma Summit in April 2014 – „…the integration of Roma is in progress all over Europe. More Roma children attend a primary school,there are more supporting programmes for Roma who need a job, a flat or access to health care. ”The progress is in a major part due to the “EU Framework for National Strategies for the Integration of Roma until 2020” that was agreed by the EU in 2011. With this document the member countriesobliged themselves to include the Roma subject in their reform programme as part of the Europe2020 strategy.In order to achieve the given objectives, for example 75 per cent employment rate, 10 per centschool drop-outs, 40 per cent college graduates and reduction of the part of people threatened bypoverty and social exclusion to 20 million, there is already in the majority population the necessity ofhigh efforts. This is proven by the figures of the European Commission – based on the information ofthe member countries on the state of fulfilment of their national reform programmes in 2011. Much more dramatic is the situation of the Roma. Out of the estimated 6 million Roma living in theEU, more than the half live in the partner countries of the project – 105.000 in Germany, 400.000in France, 750.000 in Hungary, 1.8 million in Romania and 700.000 in Bulgaria. Opposite to theEuropean trend, three fourth of the Roma are younger than 40 years.


Since 2008 a part of the project partners have implemented numerous activities together with andfor Roma, for example in Germany, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. This way they could gain anauthentic overview on their actual living situation and the challenges of their integration in the fields education, employment, housing and health. They realised, that a relevant reason for the permanentdiscrimination of Roma is their low education level. Disadvantages in the education sector – whichis a central field for the social integration and rising of such a young population – can be felt inparticular. A real segregation exists. So their participation in education is clearly reducing after thecompulsory education. Only about 15 per cent finalise secondary level two. Less than 20 per centof Roma obtain a finalised vocational education. In the majority population it is a share of 70 percent. Only 2 to 5 per cent of all Roma attend a Highschool. In the majority population more than 20per cent, in the age group 20 to 25 even 40 per cent. Not even 5 per cent of all Roma are Collegegraduates. Their unemployment rate is in average 70 per cent, concerning women the percentage is even higher. For those reasons Roma are still the poorest, the most unemployed and the leasteducated Europeans. Another big obstacle for their access to education and employment is the lack of a proof of theirinformally and non-formally acquired competences. Therefore, our project focused on the recording,assessment and acknowledgement of the Roma’s competences. It contributed to the implementationof the Roma integration strategies of the partner countries as part of the Europe 2020 strategy,particularly to the raising of the employment rate.”KOMPASS“ aimed concretely on the modification of the French model of Competence Balance forRoma.Except for South-Eastern-Europe, Competence Balance is used in most different forms in almost allEU countries. While it is for example a legal right for all employees in France, in Germany it is mainlyimplemented in the enterprise management, public institutions, labour administrations and moreand more for migrants. In Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria the instrument did not exist at all or wasonly partially used. A comprehensive application of Competence Balance for Roma has not beenexisting so far in any country of Europe.


Insofar „KOMPASS“ created a real innovation.The benefit for the target group will be achieved by the modified use of the French model ofCompetence Balance. It enables the participants to get a clear image of themselves through aself-evaluation, to plan a realistic future based on that and to build up motivation for facing newprofessional requirements due to existing informally and non-formally acquired competences. TheCompetence Balance is divided in three phases. The contents of the phases relate to the targetsof the participant, his/her existing potentials and the given frame conditions. In all phases theparticipant is in the centre, he/she is subject not object. An attendance of the participants also afterthe Competence Balance is planned. With that the French model of Competence Balance differs fromother procedures (e.g. ProfilPASS) and is particularly suitable for the target group Roma.


Experiences from the project show that the French model of Competence Balance is acceptedvery well by the target group, if their involvement in the modification of methods and proceduresis ensured. In the project this was done by surveys and interviews but also their participation as Competence Councillors. That for example 8 out of 12 Roma, who went through the CompetenceBalance during the Test Phase in Hungary, could be mediated to the first labour market, is certainlynot representative, but a proof of the fact that Competence Balance for Roma can be successfulrelating to the improvement of their employability.After the successful test, already now tools for the professional orientation, career planning andincreasing of their employability are available for Roma in Hungary and Bulgaria. The same will bevalid soon for Germany and France. For the application of the tools Competence Councillors areneeded. Therefore education and labour market actors from Hungary and Bulgaria were trainedwithin the project, based on newly developed training material. They again trained multipliers intheir countries.Relating to the time frame and cost intensity the French model of Competence Balance doesnot need to avoid comparison. From the implementation of “KOMPASS” we know that for one Competence Balance approximately 40 hours should be calculated. 20 hours out of them withpresence of the participant. With the certification of a Hungarian and a Bulgarian partner organisation according to the qualitycriteria of the National Association of Competence Balance Centres and professional orientation (FNCIBC) through the FECBOP, it shall be ensured that not only innovative but also Europe-wideapplicable quality criteria will be considered in the Competence Balance for Roma. The sustainabilityof the project will be guaranteed this way.A possibly broad use of Competence Balance for Roma in the partner countries and beyond is ofcourse depending on the fact, that political decision makers support its implementation in theeducation practice. Important pre-conditions for that were created both in Hungary and Bulgariaby the establishment of local/regional networks Competence Balance. In those networks Romarepresentatives, but also entrepreneurs, representatives of labour administrations, education actors,staff of local administrations and politicians are actively participating.


It would extend the scope to describe all experiences gained in the project in detail. Thereforea few lessons learned should demonstrate the most important experiences, in particular withthe involvement of the Roma, but also in connection with the implementation of the instrumentCompetence Balance and its sustainability:

  • The integration of Roma is a process. If we want to contribute to its design, we need to bemodest and patient and learn to accept, that we might fail.
  • The Roma are no homogen peoples. They are different relating to their religion, their culture,particularly language, their values and taboo systems but also to their identity. Despiteof that, their situation is similar in most European countries, especially concerning theirdiscrimination.
  • Looking at their educational situation, we should not disregard two important facts: thefirst – in many European countries, particularly in Eastern and South-Eastern-Europe, theRoma did only have a legal claim for education since the 1960th. The second – a big partof descents was and is transmitted from generation to generation orally. Written records,even of fairy tales, stories and songs, are the absolute exception. If we combine this withthe fact, that Roma languages and dialects can almost only be learned within families andcommunities, we can at least guess the loss of identity, especially relating to cultural valuesand the „education deficit“. A Roma intelligence does de facto not exist in Europe.
  • In order to realise successful projects with and for Roma, their direct involvement in theimplementation of the linked activities is urgently necessary. However, this requires a directaccess to Roma communities or Roma NGO with consideration of the according hierarchies,the knowledge of their real living situation, intense personal relations going beyond theproject activities and the support of the family. On the other way around, before the background of their marginalisation and discriminationit is equally important to inform the majority population about the project plan, to sensitisethem for their necessity and to involve them possibly also in their implementation.
  • For the provision of sustainable offers for the improvement of the target group’s integration,networking is also indispensable. This requires the building up and establishment of local/regional networks with active participation of Roma themselves, but also stakeholders,decision makers and politicians.
  • The representation of the Roma’s interests through Thirds or from outside makes senseif it is wanted by the target group, temporally limited and in the long run orienting at themotivation of concerned people to take the representation of their interests in their ownhands.


“KOMPASS” confirmed again: the recording, assessment and acknowledgement of competences ofRoma should start possibly early, in order to make a professional orientation and career planning possible. On the other hand vocational training or further education is no alternative for many Roma,due to their low pre-education or because they are just too old. For those Roma adult educationoffers are often the only opportunity to improve their employability and to finally find a job. In theframe of follow-up projects the partners will deal with the modification of the French model of Competence Balance for additional age groups within the target group.

Ronald Schönknecht

Project Manager

JugendStil e.V.59 Meßbacher StreetDE

08527 Plauen, Germany