Donegal Travellers’ Project provide employment information, advice, and support to members of the Traveller and Roma communities.
Accessing mainstream employment has been an ongoing challenge for the Traveller community. Many Travellers leave school early, and a very small number access third level education (See Education section). This poor level of educational attainment, coupled with the everyday racism and discrimination that members of the Traveller community experience, can make it particularly difficult to access employment.
Racism is a reality for many people living in Ireland and studies over the past decade have indicated that racism and discrimination toward migrants and people who are members of ethnic minority communities is a persistent problem in Ireland.
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
The 2017 report, Who Experiences Discrimination in Ireland?, prepared for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission by the Economic and Social Research Institute, found that one in eight people experience racism and that Travellers experience much higher levels of discrimination in the workplace, as well as in terms of access to public and private services.
The report also showed that Travellers are almost 10 times more likely than the general population to experience discrimination in seeking work.
When the report was released, Ronnie Fay, co-director of Pavee Point, said, “We knew from Census 2016 that there is an 80 per cent unemployment rate in the Traveller community, and we know that discrimination is a major factor in this, something again that has been confirmed by this report.”
According to the 2016 census, there were 10,653 Travellers in the labour force, and of those 8,541 were unemployed, for an unemployment rate of 80.2 per cent.
The labour force participation among Irish Travellers was 57 per cent, compared with 61.4 per cent for the general population. Among female Travellers, 972 were at work while 2,938 were looking after the home, representing 30.4 per cent of Traveller women age 15 or older.
Almost one in eight, or 11.3 per cent, of Travellers indicated they were unable to work due to a disability, nearly three times the equivalent rate for the general population, according to the 2016 census.
DTP works to inform the Traveller and Roma communities of the training and employment opportunities available and to provide opportunities through DTP programmes. Since 2016, Donegal Travellers’ Project has run a number of training and employment programmes, through a partnership between DTP and Donegal Local Development Company.
The Donegal Travellers’ Project also offers job coaching and post-secondary education and training opportunities, providing assistance and support in developing CVs and approaching job applications and interviews. Training is available at DTP offices in Letterkenny and Ballyshannon from a dedicated Traveller job coach and other DTP staff members.
Maeve McIvor, the Traveller job coach, and other staff at are also available to meet one-to-one with young Travellers throughout Donegal, including at DTP offices in Letterkenny and Ballyshannon.
Among the training and employment initiatives DTP has run in recent years were an HGV/bus driver license course, along with driving test classes; certificate courses in chainsaw handling and safe use of clean chemicals; an introduction to blacksmithing; and First Steps employment training courses for young women and young men, which helped participants develop their CV writing and interviewing skills.
The Donegal Travellers’ Project core objectives in employment are to develop opportunities for employment through training and promoting the right to work; challenging the assumptions around the issue of unemployment in the Traveller community; and working with state agencies to create opportunities for employment in the public services.