MRI research “LGBT people living in poverty in Rio de Janeiro”, published in 2015, identified serious gaps in the professional and educational background of low-income-LGBT people, which commonly lead to precarious working conditions and restricted employment opportunities. As the social and the symbolic value attributed to formal employment in Brazil is very strong and as employers lack preparedness for hiring and welcoming this section of the population, the need to promote employability amongst this target group becomes clear.
By considering the disadvantages referred to above, we have structured our employability work around two main actions. The first is offering professional qualifications to the LGBT population in order to promote equal conditions in accessing the labour market. The second consists of raising the awareness of companies about the importance of sexual and gender diversity and of fighting homophobia and transphobia in the corporate environment. This article focuses on the first action.
MRI facilitates the participation of LGBT beneficiaries in free professional trainings from public and private institutes. We strategically facilitate trainings and other initiatives from these institutions to the LGBT community in Rio de Janeiro and we refer those interested after analysing their socioeconomic and professional profile. In addition, we keep track of their progress during and after the training.
The current partner institutions are:
- “Rede Cidadã” NGO – Professional training for the labour market and registration in a database of curricula;
- “Gastromotiva” NGO – Cooking professional training;
- “Fijan” (Industry Federation of the State of Rio de Janeiro) – “ViraVida de Aprendizagem” program – Exclusively for young people between 16 and 23 years old in vulnerable situations;
- “Escola Carioca de Hotelaria” – Professional qualification in Hospitality and Tourism;
- Sub-secretariat for Productive Inclusion of the City of Rio de Janeiro – Professional qualification programs and referral to the labour market;
- “Projeto Encomoda” – Sewing and modelling courses with recycled material.
Of the 65 people registered in our database, 25 trans, 14 lesbians and 11 gay men have attended courses and 40 have already completed professional training in gastronomy, hospitality, fashion and “Jovem Aprendiz” (a Brazilian government program that promotes professional qualification for young people between 14 and 24 years old). A bartender course was expressly requested by trans men: Ten people have been referred to this course, which is a significant number given the size of the group.
- Eighteen people have concluded professional training for the labour market held in partnership with “Rede Cidadã”. Sixteen of them attended an exclusively LGBT class for the Olympic Games period and out of them six were formally hired to work in the Olympic restaurant. The others are registered in our database according to their professional profile. It is important to point out that the Olympic services network branded itself as LGBT inclusive, particularly the trans population. Any workplace transphobia cases reported by our beneficiaries who worked in the Olympic restaurant were immediately punished by firing the aggressor, as stipulated in their employment contract.
- Nine people have concluded the “Gastromotiva” training and obtained relevant placement in the gastronomy market, both as employees and as entrepreneurs;
- Six are currently concluding the “Escola Carioca de Hotelaria” professional training;
- Three have concluded the “Projeto Encomoda” course;
- Two have joined the program “Vira Vida” of the “Jovem Aprendiz” program, from Firjan;
- Five have attended workshops and other professional insertion activities at the “Subsecretatia de Inclusão Productiva”.
We understand the existing obstacles to promoting employability as challenges of two types:
Structural – The serious politico-economic crisis in Brazil directly inhibits hiring, as well as offers of professional training and the possibility of partnering with training providers. Consequently, vulnerable groups, including the LGBT population, are further excluded from opportunities.
Drop Out – The number of beneficiaries referred to professional trainings is much higher than the number who have completed them. The main reason for this is the fact that beneficiaries usually need immediately employment so will drop out of training as soon as they find a job – even if it is not in the field they want and the fact that for some transportation is neither affordable nor easy.
Despite the challenges and the difficult context in which our work is being developed, we are convinced that for many of our beneficiaries, in particular for trans people, the project brought real opportunities of inclusion in the labour market. Given their experience of avoiding school from early in their education, starting to study again has a big impact on their empowerment and self-esteem and allows, amongst other things, a first formal professional experience. This alone is already a strong indicator of inclusion, both for its symbolic effects of rights/citizenship recognition and for the concrete effects, such as being able to certify a formal training and to have financial stability and labour guarantees.
Translated by Anaïs Vibranovski