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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 17, 2002

Fact Sheet: Poland - U.S. Department of Labor Emplyoment Initiative

The United States and Poland have agreed to sign an understanding of cooperation to replicate the U.S. Department of Labor's successful Workforce Development Program in six additional regions in Poland. This understanding builds on a previous Department of Labor-funded project in Poland and the strong working relationship that the Department of Labor and Poland's Ministry of Labor and Social Policy have developed over the last ten years. This program is intended to help Poland address the serious unemployment problem that it currently faces.

Although Poland's economy has grown strongly since the early 1990s, its current national unemployment rate has risen from 10.5 percent in 1998 to over 18 percent today. Poland's ongoing restructuring of its mining, steel, and other sectors of the economy will likely add additional short-term pressures on employment. At the same time, due to a demographic boom and the lingering economic recession, there is a steady growth in the registration of unemployed youth (34 percent of all registered unemployed).

Between 1998 and 2000, the Department of Labor sponsored the Poland Workforce Development Project using Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act funding. The program was initially implemented in Poland's Silesia region to address the urgent economic problems then facing Silesia's coal and steel industries. Poland achieved significant results for workers, enterprises, and communities, including:

  • 6,664 new jobs as a result of the project;
  • 13 local economic development projects funded and implemented;
  • 17 labor-management adjustment committees established in enterprises experiencing mass layoffs; and
  • 1,914 community participants trained through the Adjustment Program.

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