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Focus on the long-term unemployed

Posted by Nick Prag at 17 September 2015, 20:25 CET |
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With more than 12 million people in Europe unable to find a job for more than a year, the Commission this week put forward a Recommendation for Member States to help the long-term unemployed back to work.

Long-term unemployment is one of the legacies of the economic crisis. Despite some improvements in the labour market as the economy slowly recovers, the number of long-term jobless doubled between 2007 and 2014.

Half of these have been unemployed for more than two years. And the longer they remain out of work, the more difficult it is to get these people back into a job.

The new guidance proposal can be part of the solution, says the Commission. It sets out three key steps to make it easier for long-term jobless to find work again:

First, registering with the unemployment services; second, receiving an individual assessment, covering needs and potential, and third, getting a job integration agreement, at the latest at 18 months of unemployment.

This combined support should be offered through a single point of contact instead of having to follow up through different services.

The goal is an increase in transition rates from long-term unemployment to employment, by making services provided more effective, in particular in Member States with higher numbers of long-term unemployed and less support available. It should help to reduce the gaps in current transition rates between the low performing Member States and well performing ones.

Will this make a difference?

The share of long-term unemployed of the active population also varies strongly between Members States ranging from 1.5% in Austria to 19.5% in Greece.

While some Member States have measures in place already, some have no formal coordination in place, and lack the individual approach.

The impact will be higher in Member States with weaker support structures and higher rates of long-term unemployment.

But the proposals do not come with any new funding. Though some funding is possible through the European Social Fund, or through the European Regional Development Fund.

Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen says: "We cannot settle for an economic recovery that leaves so many Europeans behind. I am confident that today's proposal will make a difference for them with the full support of Member States, social partners and employers."

Maybe it will help jobless people into work again. Anything which highlights the plight of the long-term unemployed, who make up the hard core of Europe’s jobless, is to be welcomed.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.