Improving social policies & local economy: proposals from MedTOWN 1st Greek national round table
Twelve Greek national and international institutions participated in MedTOWN 1st online national round table in Greece “Active employment policies and development of the local economy” held on 13th December 2021, with representatives of public institutions, local and social & solidarity economy (SSE) actors, social policies’ experts, and academics.
There is political will, especially at local level, and there are also funds to be invested, therefore this sets a great starting point.
The high level debate that focused on MedTOWN project’s topics as co-production, social innovation, activities of SSE that have positive impact in local communities, and specially active employment policies, reached a set of conclusions and proposals that we summarize here:
- Social Innovation would be possible, and with added value, if it is included in the procedures in the daily life of the community. It is essential that the centralized state and system to be changed, while also addressing the mentality of the people, so they stop expecting institutions to be the ones that propose initiatives.
- Good practices could be exchanged through study visits, exhibitions, etc. to show how to contribute to that change from counselling offices and citizens and also from States institutions.
- The incorporation of a digital wallet for subsidies, etc., in the local communities in the country, with certain spending/consuming schemes, would benefit local economies. It would require all actors to contribute and put efforts into that, cooperating with the appropriate people and entities.
- The National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2021-2027 includes funding to support innovative solutions at local level to manage starting a positive change in the local communities: address social issues, ways to simplify procedures and faster activation of the implementation of the new policies for employment and entrepreneurship.
- Contribute to better planning in the near future to provide a procedure for the sustainability of employment programmes developed by the State agency for employment of Greece (OAED) & social partners so they do not stop at the end of their term, but continue through other programmes, more specialized or focused on people with disabilities (PwD).
- Collaboration between all stakeholders to reduce temporary jobs, cooperation with firms and implementation of a basket of public incentives for new small business (lighter regulations, taxation, easier procedures, small start-up capital, etc.) would contribute to fight unemployment and poverty, especially for vulnerable groups of people, as seen by the experience of KEA (EEE) –Social Solidarity Subsidy-.
- Change the perception of the private companies, reverse the stigmatization of PwD, improve the knowledge of their capabilities and record the problems they suffer to find solutions.
- Improve active policies instead of passive ones (subsidies) to encourage vulnerable people, increase of income through actual work and social rehabilitation: There are good examples of SSE actions and such should be prioritized in several fields of the economy.
- Establishment of counselling offices in every Municipality, to support and promote actions for new entrepreneurship, focused and based on the development assets and potential of each area, including urban and rural ones. There are political will, funds to invest and public employment agencies. There are good examples to replicate like KOISPE, use of abandoned buildings in Lyon (France), use public building to co-production projects and others.
- Consultation by academics would significantly contribute to replicate useful cooperation and good practices by assisting ideas and opening pathways to action and implementation by the people in the communities.
- Replicate good practices around the world with innovative activities implemented with women, involving the stakeholders in the common efforts (e.g. Greek women corporates started 30 years ago that have established with good jobs and good working conditions; creation of a Jordanian incubator dedicated to women with the obligation to recruit also PwDs in their activities)
- Upgrade and use of existing structures to support the implementation of co-production and social innovation at local level with new ideas and modern procedures to assist the community. Include the cooperation of the end beneficiaries (the vulnerable people, PwDs, unemployed and young people) in order to improve the effectiveness of the active employment policies in the local economies with useful and sustainable new jobs and new small enterprises.
- SSE co-production and social innovation could contribute in the support of vulnerable groups of people. KOISPE in Kavala is a great example: supported the set of few hundreds of job positions in the real economy, with inspiring projects that had a significant social impact, affecting the personal and social life of the beneficiaries (PwDs – workers) and their families, inspiring new relationships and a new perspective for life. And has also contributed to change the perception about PwDs, as it is proved that they are an actual part of the economy.
- The collaboration of all actors, Municipalities, Hospitals, Regional Government, Private sector, NGOs, SSEs, Civil Society Entities is essential in the new era.
Yiannis Tsoukaldis, from EPEKSA, MedTOWN’s Greek partner, concluded that based on this discussion, there is political will, especially at local level, and there are also funds to be invested, therefore this sets a great starting point.
MedTOWN project is developing in Greece a demonstrative action focusing on the co-production of public employment services, with the participation of social services and SSE actors to support people excluded from the labour market. The main aim is to develop a local action plan to confront unemployment and enhance the local economy, supporting the survival of small local businesses, while increasing the employment & entrepreneurship of vulnerable people.
The conversation continues on our Community of Practice
Stay tuned for more info on our project at: www.enicbcmed.eu/projects/medtown