Analysts: State Needs to Step Up Help for Long-term Unemployed

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Stock photo by TASR

Bratislava, January 27 (TASR) – The lack of a qualified workforce plays an increasingly central role vis-a-vis reducing unemployment and creating new jobs, analysts have told TASR.

Employment Institute director Michal Palenik faulted the state for underfunding employment policies. He said that 98.5 percent of jobless people fail to be included in retraining programmes while allowances to support worker mobility are scarcely ever used and are going to be limited even more. Truly personalised career counselling is also in short supply.

Postova Banka analyst Jana Glasova warned that things may get even worse as the unemployment rate continues to go down. “Many businesses are struggling to find qualified people to fill their open positions, even in districts in which the unemployment rate remains rather high. It’s long-term unemployment that is particularly problematic in Slovakia, and it affects people with low or unsuitable qualifications. To make things worse, companies are concerned that the working habits of people who’ve previously been jobless for a long time may be eroded,” she said.

What needs to be done is enhance links between the education system and the labour market, she said. “A system needs to be instituted to make sure that graduates are of keen interest to employers. It’s already apparent that job openings are being filled by foreign workers with the right qualifications,” said Glasova.

F.A. Hayek Foundation analyst Martin Reguli weighed in and said that the unemployment rate could be slashed further if the regulation burden and cost associated with hiring and terminating employees were reduced. Admittedly, however, Slovakia is sorely lacking in technical workers and there is little student interest in technical careers.

Martin Vlachynsky, an analyst with the Economic and Social Analysis Institute (INESS), said that demand is met if the price is right. “Rising salaries increase the motivation of employees to relocate to areas and to switch to sectors where demand is the highest,” he said. This is not true for the long-term unemployed and people with poor qualifications, however.