ul. Wybrzeże J. Słowackiego 9
(wejście od ul.Mazowieckiej)
tel.:71 344-65-70, fax.:71 342-49-01
Nadzór nad Ochotniczymi Hufcami Pracy sprawuje Minister Rodziny, Pracy i Polityki Społecznej
Voluntary Labor Corps (VLC) - Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy (OHP)
Voluntary Labor Corps (VLC) are - on the basis of the Act on Promotion of Employment and Institutions of the Labor Market - an institution of the labor market. VLC are a state run budget unit supervised by the Minister of Labor, which perform state activities for 15-year-old teenagers and the unemployed up to 25 years old. These include activities within the scope of employment and combating social marginalization and exclusion of youth as well as tasks connected with education and bringing up. The main objective of the VLC activity is creating for the youth conditions of efficient social and professional development by building a system of help for groups of the most vulnerable individuals, organizing and supporting various forms of freeing oneself from poverty and social pathology, as well as supporting various forms of vocational guidance.
The most important legal acts, which define tasks vested by the legislator in VLC are:
the Act on Promotion of Employment and Institutions of the Labor Market of April 20th, 2004 (Journal of Laws of 2004, No 99, item 1001), on the basis of which the Voluntary Labor Corps have gained the status of an institution of the labor market and are the second, next to the public service, entity bringing into effect the tasks defined by the Act;
the Act on the Educational System of September 7th, 1991 (Journal of Laws of 1996, No 67, item 329 - uniform text with amendments) defining the tasks of the VLC within the scope of educating and bringing up the youth;
Regulation of the Minister of Economy and Labor of December 30th, 2004 on detailed tasks and organization of the Voluntary Labor Corps (Journal of Laws of 2005, No 6, item 41).
EDUCATION AND BRINGING UP
VLC make sure that individuals taking part in their activities have proper conditions for continuing general and professional education, developing their general and professional qualifications or retraining. They prepare and carry out preventive, upbringing and rehabilitative projects for youth threatened by demoralization and infringing the law. They also carry out comprehensive protective and upbringing activities.
The VLC, first of all, take care of youth originating from the environment of the unemployed families, which are not able to bring up their children and youth threatened by being excluded from the educational system. Every year there are about 32 thousand people, who spend their time in training and upbringing centers and in the corps. There are about 400 VLC units, in which the youth can spend time. The poorest individuals taking part in the activities of the VLC have a right to a free of charge place in dormitories and full board. The teaching staff of VLC cooperates with various institutions and organizations from the local environment, which busy themselves with the problems of the youth, i.e. with the police, psychological clinics and pedagogical institutions, addictions clinics, etc.
The youth is trained to work in 62 professions and the efficiency of professional training is very high. Preparing the young workers has two forms: a professional training or preparation for doing a specific work. The professional training prepares the adolescents to work as qualified workingmen or apprentices and covers a practical professional training organized at the employer's as well as theoretical knowledge. The professional training lasts at least 24 months and does not exceed 36 months. It ends with an exam organized by the employer or taken in the presence of examination committees of the crafts chambers, after which the candidate gains a title of a qualified workingman or an apprentice respectively. Training for doing a specific work also ends with an exam and may last 22 months at the most.
Each year VLC organize a national professional competition named "Competent at Work", which makes it possible for the youth and staff to check the level of preparedness of the youth who ends the training.
VLC carry out undertakings defined in the National Program for Preventing Social Unadjustedness and Crime among Children and Youth, e.g. a package called "Safe Way", which covers about 22 thousand young people. Facilities like centers of prevention and social intervention operate within the framework of the package. Youth from the local environments takes advantage of those facilities. Activities taken up within the framework of the program increase the social activity of youth and support the young people in becoming independent and in getting professional education according to the needs of the labor market.
Since the school year 2001/2002 the Voluntary Labor Corps have been bringing into effect the Program of Social Activation of the VLC Youth in cooperation with the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. Its main objective is the development of the self-governments of individuals taking part in the VLC activities. In 2007 an educational module, being previously a part of the "Opportunity 13-18" program realized by the Voluntary Labor Corps till 2003, was also included in the Program of Social Activation of the VLC Youth. The Program of Activation is included in the National Plan for Employment.
Every year a national Festival of Artistic Creativity of the VLC Youth and many other events promoting cultural, sport, sightseeing and tourist activities of the VLC youth are organized. These are for example: a National Photography and Plastic Competition devoted to John Paul II, the National sports games of the VLC and Disabled Youth, Polish Football Championship, Indoor Volleyball Tournament for Girls or National Yacht Race for the Compass Card of the VLC Chief.
The Church has been present in the educational system of VLC for many years. The educators and carers refer to the Christian ethics and Polish traditions, which have been uniting various social and cultural environments. In August 1999 the Polish Primate priest Cardinal Józef Glemp vested the pastoral service for VLC in bishop Anotni Długosz of Częstochowa. In 2006 prelate Jarosław Sroka of Częstochowa became the National Pastor of VLC. For the last 15 years, national pilgrimages to Jasna Góra and Licheń for the VLC staff and youth have been organized every year. In cooperation with the pastors other events are also organized, e.g. a pilgrimage to the grave of John Paul II, camps with retreats, Christmas Eve's meetings, Christmas cards competitions, literature competitions, church songs competitions, etc.
JOB AGENCY, JOB COUNSELLING, JOB INFORMATION, TRAINING
VLC offer basic services of the labor market: they serve as a job agency, they organize trainings, job counseling and provide job information. All those services are addressed to young people up to 25 years old - graduates of secondary schools and higher education institutions and educated young people already having some qualifications but threatened by unemployment or who already are jobless. Moreover, students of higher education institutions and secondary schools who would like to find a job (especially when they have no classes), gain experience and improve their financial situation, also take advantage of the job agency services offered by VLC.
The job agency services in VLC are offered by Youth Job Agencies, to which about 170 thousand young people come every year and 140 thousand of whom start working. The agencies look for and gather offers of permanent and temporary jobs, have a record of the unemployed, create data bases with information on professions wanted at the local labor market, give advice on possibilities to adopt occupation or retrain and direct the young people for professional training or retraining.
Other units busying themselves with job counseling and job preferences are:
Job Clubs, where specialists like sociologists, psychologists and educators organize workshops on methods of looking for a job and where one can get individual advice. The Job Clubs, thanks to their activity, protect the psyche of the young jobless people, shape their self-confidence and inventiveness and prevent their intellectual destruction. Every year about 220 thousand people take advantage of the services of the Clubs;
Mobile Centers of Vocational Information (49). Their employees run group meetings, give individual advice and give information on professions. Their activity is directed first of all to people from small towns and communes in small villages and former state-owned farms regions. Each of the centers has a small bus equipped with computers, appropriate technical devices and a library;
Youth Career Centers (23) offer help to young people in making important professional decisions, especially taking into consideration the aspects of entrepreneurship and self-employment. In 2007 eight Youth Career Centers will be created with the cooperation of local partners;
Centers of Professional Training organize professional training and courses, whose objective is to improve the already possessed qualifications or to retrain the unemployed to make it possible for them to find a job in occupations wanted at the local labor markets;
the Main Methodic Center of Occupational Information of VLC in Warsaw. It coordinates and carries out methodic and implementation activities within the scope of occupational advice and information.
The Voluntary Labor Corps support occupational advisors of the School Career Centers and give them access to their methodic resources. This kind of activity is carried out within the framework of the undertaking called the Program Platform "VLC for Schools".
The Program Platform "VLC for Schools":
is first of all a national internet thematic portal ( www.ohpdlaszkoly.pl
), which contains information and educational parts meant for the youth and the VLC and school occupational advisors. It contains also training information for the VLC advisors and SzOK (e-learning courses);
means organization of educational fairs, workshops for adolescents and occupational advisors, content-related and technical support, common programs and events promoting possessed resources in the area of occupational counseling;
means organizing cyclical district and national meetings of occupational counselors and School Career Centers, conferences, seminars.
In 2007 the Voluntary Labor Corps will realize the following programs on occupational activation of the youth included in the National Plan for Employment: Program for Social Activation of the VLC Youth, "Start Being Independent" (training on running one's own business, planning professional career and training on how to look for a job actively), "Plan Your Career" (help for adolescents from villages), "The Way to Career" (holiday professional training and courses for the youth).
EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND
When Poland joined the European Union, the Voluntary Labor Corps - as one of the first Polish institutions - stared bringing into effect projects co-financed by the European Social Fund, within the scope of the Sectoral Operational Program Development of Human Resources. In the years of 2007-2013, according to the provisions of the Operational Program Human Resources, the VLC are still the main project initiators in the area of realization of services for youth threatened by marginalization or social exclusion.
The main project of VLC co-financed by the European Social Fund is a project called "Your Knowledge - Your Success" realized within the framework of Measure 1.5 scheme b) "Promotion of active social policy in support of high risk groups" of the Sectoral Operational Program Development of Human Resources 2004-2006. Its most important objective is social and professional activation of youth threatened by social exclusion by returning them to the educational system, adapting an occupation and becoming independent. In all three editions of the project almost 20 thousand beneficiaries took part. The first two editions of the project - whose total value exceeded PLN 50 million - took place in 2004 and 2005. Over 11 thousand people aged 15-24 took advantage of its support.
In the third edition named "Education - Knowledge - Work", realized from April 2006 to April 2007, eight thousand people aged 15-24 coming from families and environments threatened by social pathologies, living in poverty and stricken by long-term unemployment, not going to school (or having problems at school), not working and disabled took part. The value of the project exceeds PLN 39 million; 33.5 million was given by the European Social Fund. The adolescents take part in occupational trainings, workshops on active job search, educational workshops and workshops on entrepreneurship; they participate in psychological and therapeutic trainings, language and computer courses.
From January 1st, 2007 till June 30th, 2007 the VLC realize an "Individual Career Project - Portfolio for the Youth", whose objective is to work out comprehensive standards of providing service within the scope of planning a professional career.
From January 2007 till the end of February 2008 a project called "18-24 - Time to be Independent" lasts. It is meant for 3 thousand people aged 18-24, who do not continue their education in secondary schools or higher education institutions. The project's activities, and especially the professional trainings and language courses are to make it easier for them to start a new life and find a job.
Within the scope of the European Community Initiative EQUAL a Project "New Life for Former Prisoners" has been realized since 2005. The Headquarters of the VLC is a partner in this project and the Central Board of Prison Service is its administrator. The activities of the Project, which are carried out in 13 prisons in 11 provinces, help the prisoners and former prisoners in social re-adaptation and in finding a job. The prisoners receive educational, therapeutic and social help. The project is realized with the participation of partners, e.g. from France, Italy, Spain, Estonia and Finland.
For over a year (from October 2005 till the end of 2006) a project co-financed by the European Social Fund called Adapting the Qualifications of the VLC Staff to the European Union Standards was carried out within the framework of Measure 1.1. scheme b) of the Sectoral Operational Program Development of Human Resources. In the process of realization of the project 1088 workers of the VLC were trained. Thanks to the project the qualifications of the VLC staff have been bettered and improved and its results contributed in a significant way to the development and modernization of VLC as an institution of the labor market.
Independently of the projects implemented at the central level by the Headquarters of VLC and numerous field units of VLC, various projects within the framework of the Sectoral Operational Program Development of Human Resources (Measures 1.1., 1.5. and 1.6.) and Priority II of the Integrated Operational Program of Regional Development (Measures 2.1., 2.4. and 2.5.) have been carried out since 2005. The projects have been realized both for the youth of local environments and the VLC staff. The total number of the projects was 15 for 1 500 people and their cost exceeded PLN 6 million.
Till the end of March 2007 a two-year program named "Always on the Right Track" is being realized within the framework of the European Community Program "Leonardo da Vinci". The promoter of the project are the Headquarters of the Voluntary Labor Corps and its partners are: Universitaet Klagenfurt - Jobservice from Austria, Albatros & Deltha Consulting S.L. from Spain, ALAJI from France and from Poland - the Warsaw University Center for Open and Multimedia Education and the Institute for Sustainable Technologies from Radom. The results of the project are as follows: creation of the European Multimedia Workshop Center in the form of a e-learning platform for occupational counselors ( www.ohp-righttrack.org ), improvement of the occupational counseling quality, extending the range of the occupational counselors' influence.
During the last years the Voluntary Labor Corps have worked out and realized many programs, e.g. the above-mentioned two editions of the project called "Your Knowledge - Your Success" (co-financed by the European Social Fund), "Opportunity 13-18. Education - Work - Bringing Up" (development of a system of support for youth threatened by marginalization), VLC Agenda (activities preventing marginalization and social exclusion), Agrostart (for youth from villages supporting their professional activation and promotion of entrepreneurship), Eurostart (program undertakings of VLC for European education and upbringing of youth).
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH EXCHANGE
The Voluntary Labor Corps gain financial resources for realization of their projects not only from the European Union but also from the Ministry of National Education and the Program "Youth" and the Polish-German Youth Cooperation. The Program "Youth" financed also the multilateral meetings - in 2006 the VLC organized 69 projects for 1 217 people. The cooperation in 2007 is carried out by 15 VLC units within the framework of the Program "Youth" and the Polish-German Youth Cooperation.
The realized projects have a character of a social, cultural, educational and professional training. They enable young people from various countries a direct contact, help to remove all cultural and linguistic barriers, to overcome stereotypes and create conscious civic attitudes. The projects create possibilities to get to know other countries, cultures and to spread knowledge on one's own country.
The Headquarters of VLC coordinate and supervise international cooperation, initiate contacts with foreign organizations, take up negotiations and help to prepare programs and applications. They also help to gain funds for realization of the projects. The Province Departments and the Centers of Education and Upbringing of VLC busy themselves with a direct cooperation with the participation of youth.
VLC cooperate with the non-governmental German Institution Internationaler Bund (IB), with which they concluded an agreement in 1994 on cooperation within the scope of cooperation for the Polish and German youth integration, covering first of all youth from threatened and socially disabled environments. The activity of IB is similar to the basic activity of VLC.
From January 1st, 2007, on the basis of a Decision of the Management of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy of November 20th, 2006, the Headquarters of the Voluntary Labor Corps took over the realization of tasks resulting from contracts and bilateral agreements on mutual employment of citizens. Poland is bound with international bilateral agreements on Free Circulation of Workers with 13 countries and its citizens have a right to take up short-term employment in those countries (seasonal work) or to work there as interns.
The tasks of VLC cover refunding from the Work Fund remuneration of adolescent workers. VLC from September 1st, 2004 is the only institution of the labor market, which accepts applications on concluding contracts concerning reimbursement. This task is performed by Province Departments and the Centers of Youth's Education and Work. In 2006 the reimbursement covered about 39 thousand employers engaging over 120 thousand adolescent workers.