III Clece for Integration Forum: “A job to change a life”

III Clece for Integration Forum: “A job to change a life”

  • “Closing the circle of exclusion is the responsibility of everyone”

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 4 November 2015. Collaboration between different social agents is necessary to help people at risk of social exclusion find work, which is one of the most effective tools for them to achieve full integration. This is one of the main conclusions drawn from the 3rd Clece for Integration Forum, held under the banner “A job to change a life” at the CICCA Cultural Centre in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Organised by Clece, the Forum brought together different stakeholders involved in helping integrate people at risk of exclusion, with representatives from public administration, the private sector, social agents and workers from this particular social group. From the public sector, the event was attended by Isabel Mena, the Vice-Councillor for Employment and Social Policy of the Canary Islands Government, Elena Máñez Rodríguez, the Government Councillor for Social Policy and Accessibility of the Gran Canaria Island Council; Óscar Mata, Manager of the Municipal Institute of Employment and Training (IMEF) of the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and Jesús Octavio Suárez Rodríguez, Co-ordinator of El Lasso Municipal Refuge. From Clece, the event was attended by the Clece chairman, Cristóbal Valderas, Purificación González, the Director of Human Resources at Clece, and Luis Arocha Miranda, Insertion Selection Officer for Clece Canarias, who provided the view from the private sector, with workers’ impressions coming from Yesica Díaz Valiente and Javier Antonio Gonzalez, both Clece employees.

Yesica and Javier gave first-hand accounts of the problem of social exclusion. Having faced complex personal and family situations, Yesica felt “proud not to have given in to adversity and to now have all her family with her, always looking to the future with optimism”, as she put it. For Javier, after overcoming a drug dependency problem and securing a job, he stated that he was “living life for the first time” and that he now feels “useful, responsible and a part of society”. This message of optimism was used to draw the various interventions to a close at the forum, where the emphasis had been on the need to combine the efforts of all stakeholders.

Isabel Mena said that she was “tackling different areas of action to get back to ensure a return to the priorities of integration into the workplace” and “working to co-ordinate the three main pillars of full inclusion: social policy, employment and housing”. To conclude, the Vice-Councillor added that “closing the circle of exclusion is the responsibility of everyone”, in reference to the need for collaboration between the public and private sectors. In turn, Elena Mañez spoke of the need for public administration to foster tools to combat social exclusion, such as “the inclusion of social clauses in public contracting”.

Óscar Mata, meanwhile, describing joblessness as an exclusion risk, emphasised the “importance of training as a tool to increase employability, particularly when a high percentage of those out of work lack qualifications”. In response to the moderator, Santiago Morellón, head of news at the Cadena Cope radio station, Jesús Octavio Suárez commented that the percentage of reintegration is very low and that “without a job, people often end up back at square one” in the integration process.

The responsibility of business
Cristóbal Valderas stated that “at Clece has worked on producing a model of integration that shows that it is possible to provide these people with the opportunity that they need. It is no easy task, and it requires the necessary resources, securing collaboration and ensuring the involvement of all workers. However, once the bases have been established, much can still be achieved. At Clece there are now 595 people working for the company from these social groups. These are people who we have helped to close the circle with a job opportunity after using up or coming to the end of all social aids available to them.”

For Purificación González, “rather than the difficulties that companies see in hiring people of this kind,” she pointed out “the benefits that having employees of this kind on the workforce can have in the long run, in terms of gratitude, loyalty and a sense of belonging, as well as improvements to the working environment, generating an atmosphere of togetherness and solidarity”. From his own experience, Luis Arocha said that integration is “a very long road. It is a chain that requires an appetite for change, the right professional advice and, ultimately, the job itself”.

The 3rd “Clece for Integration” Forum forms part of Clece’s social commitment to helping people at risk of social exclusion find work. Clece currently employs 74,401 people in Spain, of which 6,602 are from socially vulnerable collectives, and specifically 595 of whom come from situations of social exclusion.

Óxido photography exhibition
As part of the Forum, Clece also sponsored and produced Óxido, the latest exhibition of photographs by Sara Yun, the artist from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This exceptional body of work was on display at the Espacio de las Artes de Tenerife (TEA) from 3 to 17 November, and is a reflection on the capacity of human beings to fight to get by.

The series of images shows the day-to-day lives of four out of 22 immigrants who travelled on a boat that was abandoned to its own fate off the coast of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, thousands of miles from their homes.