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Government in labour market policy retreat

Government in labour market policy retreat

The Swedish government has announced changes to its unemployment policy to extend access to labour market training even for the long-term unemployed, bowing to broad criticism of existing regulations.

Published: 17 May 2011 11:10 CET

Individuals classified in the so-called phase 3 of the government's key jobs and development guarantee policy will now be offered tailored training.

"The National Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) will, together with the participant, determine the type of education which is best suited and its duration," the government announced in a statement on Tuesday.

"The opportunity for labour market training in phase 3 will continue until the end of 2011."

The jobs and development guarantee was introduced by the government in 2007 and represented a complete review of how unemployment insurance is paid and the return to the labour market is managed.

The guarantee is divided into three parts. Phase 1 is an introductory stage which offers a mapping of a job-seeker's skills and requirements with job search coaching and other activities, lasting a total of 150 days.

Phase 2 is directed to training and work experience. Phase one and two are permitted to continue for a total of 450 days combined.

Phase 3 was designed to ensure that participants were offered employment at a workplace in order to gain experience and fresh references.

The phase 3 has in recent weeks become something of difficult political issue for the government. The rules are designed so that phase 3 participants are given tasks that would otherwise not have been carried out.

Criticism from both the opposition and companies has focused on the fact that long-term unemployment are given meaningless jobs to do in order to retain the right to unemployment insurance.

There have also been reports of staff being given no tasks at all and companies cashing in 5,000 kronor ($790) per person and month from the state.

The opposition has demanded more labour market training for the long-term unemployed and demanded that the Employment Service ends the transfer of individuals into phase 3.

After securing the support of the Sweden Democrats, the Red-Green parties had the support necessary to win a parliamentary vote on the issue.

The government's response to extend access to training into phase 3 has been interpreted as an attempt to diffuse broader criticism of its labour market policy.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)


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