The idea for the "Professional Employment Services for the Social Economy and the Third Sector" project originated in the Department of Public Gain of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in the autumn of 2006. The decision to provide public employment services with education and training in social economy and the third sector was driven by the new challenges facing this particular professional group.
The drop in the unemployment rate resulting from Poland's growing economy and job-oriented immigration has revealed or rather confi rmed the existence of a disadvantaged labour market group for whom conventional work activation tools (training, supported employment) deployed by employment services have proven ineffective.
Recent years have also witnessed the introduction of new legal and organisational solutions promoting the development of civil society and the social economy.
Legislation such as the Act on Public Benefi t and Volunteer Work, the Act on Social Employment and the Act on Social Cooperatives have given rise to numerous initiatives, both civic and public, aimed at integrating people threatened with social exclusion and strengthening the potential of the civic sector. New grass-roots initiatives inspired by civic organisations require strong support from public administration partners. Public employment services need to expand their knowledge of the social economy and the third sector if they are going to become eff ective partners in promoting labour market policies. Educational programs addressed to public employment services are needed to support inter-sectoral cooperation and to expand the range of available activities.
The mission of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is to promote education and good practices in a manner which complements and creates better access to innovative solutions to social problems. The "Professional Employment Services for the Social Economy and the Third Sector" project is an excellent example of this.
This project aims to design and implement an innovative training program for 450 county and regional labour offi ce personnel. The training program is to be supplemented by this guide which is a comprehensive source of knowledge on the social economy and the third sector. The initiators of the project decided to make the program more attractive by introducing a strategic game with supplementary material on the social economy. The "Professional Employment Services for the Social Economy and the Third Sector" project is supported by a call centre and an interactive website for educating public employment services. The website contains the latest news, commentaries and advice on new social economy services and tools.
The e-learning platform has proven most eff ective in supporting the exchange of knowledge and experiences between project participants. The opening conference, the meeting which summarised the results and the workshop on expanding and systematising social economy knowledge have all pointed to a clear need for third sector projects. The "Professional Employment Services for the Social Economy and the Third Sector" project was carried out by the Department of Public Gain with the assistance of the Foundation for Social and Economic Initiatives.