The Skills and Education Group have recently led a project to support Romanian communities in the UK. This project has now reached its conclusion.
The project involved developing a training course to help tackle human trafficking and labour exploitation affecting Romanian workers in the UK. The project was undertaken by the Skills and Education Group, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and the Romanian and Eastern European Hub, with the support of the Romanian Embassy and Consulate General in London.
Read on for a summary of the project and its outcomes.
The Skills and Education Group and the GLAA have already worked together on tackling labour exploitation, having collaborated to develop the Level 1 Award in Workers’ Rights and Exploitation – a short qualification that helps learners to understand their rights in the workplace, keep themselves safe, and know how to spot the signs of exploitation.
In October 2022, representatives from the Group and the GLAA attended a conference on exploring new approaches to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery relating to Romanians in the UK. The Romanian community is one of the biggest immigrant communities in the UK and exploitation of Romanian workers is a widespread problem. Due to a lack of knowledge about their rights and the language barrier, many Romanians are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Conversely, there are also cases of Romanian workers claiming they have been exploited when they have not – again due to a lack of knowledge about rights for workers in the UK.
The Romanian community is one of the biggest immigrant communities in the UK and exploitation of Romanian workers is a widespread problem.
Having identified the need to support Romanian communities with knowledge about their workers’ rights, the GLAA obtained funding from the government to upskill Romanian communities across the UK and chose to work with the Skills and Education Group.
The Group selected five relevant modules from the Level 1 Award in Workers’ Rights and Exploitation. These were created to develop a three and a half-hour training course to be completed using a workbook which was designed and professionally printed. The course content was translated into Romanian and Romanian cultural relevance was added.
The Group then recruited seven community representatives from five organisations. Through a ‘train the trainer’ model at the Romanian Embassy, these Romanian Community Representatives were trained to become facilitators for the course. 23 staff at the embassy enrolled on the Level 1 qualification, including the seven facilitators.
The course delivery began in mid-November 2022 and concluded at the end of March 2023. Even with a tight timeframe, 33 training sessions were delivered nationally with 271 learners successfully completing the course, each receiving a certificate of attendance.
The course reached a diverse variety of learners across both the Romanian and Roma communities. The ages of the learners ranged from 18 to 70+. Two online sessions and one hybrid session were delivered in order to accommodate those learners who were domestic abuse survivors, women with childcare responsibilities, or people who could not travel due to distance or cost. An easy-read version of the course was also created to support learners with special educational needs.
With the help of the information obtained I can combat all forms of abuse at my workplace, and I can share the information with people less aware of them.
Feedback on the course was positive. The course delivery, course materials and course content were rated very good or excellent by a high proportion of participants. All learners said that they now understand how important it is to look for the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking.
Attendees were asked how the training course will assist them in the future. Here are some of their responses to this:
“[The course gave me] rules and information which I can rely on in the case of needing help in the working domain.”
“I am more prepared to ask for my rights [to be respected].”
“With the help of the information obtained I can combat all forms of abuse at my workplace, and I can share the information with people less aware of them.”
The project uncovered a range of findings about individuals in the Romanian communities, including the following:
- 99% of course attendees had experienced one or more work-related issues: exploitation, trafficking, abuse, or discrimination at work.
- A few attendees disclosed that they were paid below the minimum wage.
- Highly skilled Romanian workers often experience discrimination at work, such as excessive workload; colleagues not accepting their seniority; being excluded from work socials; being excluded from promotion and progression opportunities or pay increases.
- Young Roma Romanians experience difficulty in accessing and gaining qualifications and more secure employment due to a lack of language skills and literacy issues.
- Certain communities have “stay at home” women who look after children and cannot work or gain a qualification.
The completion of the project has created food for thought regarding further work. Recommendations from the final project report include the following:
- Upskill additional Romanian speaking community facilitators through the undertaking and accreditation of the Level 1 Award in Workers’ Rights and Labour Exploitation.
- Funding to continue to be able to deliver the training programme to the wider community throughout the United Kingdom.
- Provide opportunity for attendees to undertake the Level 1 Award in Workers’ Rights and Exploitation qualification.
- Develop other bespoke short courses on issues such as: ‘Proving your rights under the EU Settlement Scheme’; ‘Looking for jobs’; ‘Identifying genuine employment’.
Find out more
To find out more about this project, please contact Jo Shirley, Professional Development and Learning Manager.
You can find out more about the Level 1 Award in Workers’ Rights and Labour Exploitation on the qualification webpage. You can also watch videos about the development of the qualification on our YouTube channel.