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European Year of Skills

Złotoryja County found an effective way to help people with disabilities to get new qualifications and skills

One of Złotoryja County's key initiatives involves empowering people with disabilities by equipping them with new skills and qualifications that pave the way for employment. Jagoda is one of 376 participants in the project, co-funded by the European Social Fund. Her story shows how upskilling can help you rediscover happiness and purpose in life.  

A woman painting.

Złotoryja County prioritises the needs of people with disabilities 

The challenges surrounding employment for people with disabilities, like stereotyping, stigma or lack of accessibility, often lead to their frustration and exclusion from the workforce. Recognising this issue, Złotoryja County, along with its partners, developed a project to help people with disabilities find their way on the job market. 

To do so, the project combined one-to-one support with further training. More specifically, 376 people received expert guidance from social workers, employment agents and psychologists. They also received vocational training in areas like gastronomy, gardening, artistic crafts, digital printing operations, advertising, hotel management, Christmas decoration crafting, and transversal skills development. 

The Świerzawa Vocational Development Centre played a key role – not only as a project partner, but also as a facility that trains and employs people with disabilities. In the Centre, project participants were supported by professional assistants to find a job. The centre also offered first aid training to 70 participants, while 22 others were placed in vocational internships. As a result, 50 people were able to find work or start their own businesses after the project. 

Jagoda found the meaning of her life thanks to the project 

The life of 57-year-old Jagoda was suddenly impacted by a disability. As she puts it, the acquired disability is a topic she avoided thinking about or discussing because it signalled “the end of her life”. Her mental health suffered. She experienced nervous breakdowns, depression, and feelings of exclusion during the five years she spent at home.  

Everything changed, when a friend told her about the project led by the Vocational Development Centre. 

The Centre opened a new door for Jagoda - she learned about a training to be an assistant gardener. Jagoda found this a perfect fit because it made her feel like she could devote herself completely to the work. Enthusiastically, she embarked on a training journey, helping her to learn new skills, but also to rediscover her sense of purpose and meaning in life. 

And the result was soon to see. After completing her training, Jagoda was hired as a worker in the green spaces department of the Vocational Development Centre in Świerzawa, a position she gladly accepted. Work has become her motivation, especially when others can see the fruits of her labour, which are visible in the abundant greenery and vibrant flowers of the area. She believes there should be more training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities “because they allow us to break free from isolation at home and learn skills that will empower us to secure jobs." 


The European Social Fund co-funded the Złotoryja County’s project as part of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship Regional Operational Programme. Its partners included the County Family Support Centre in Złotoryja, the Vocational Development Centre in Świerzawa, the County Labour Office in Złotoryja, and the Social Economy Foundation PROM.