This paper follows the publication of the recommendation on the integration of long-term unemployed, initially propsed by the European Commission and adopted by the Council of the European Union in February 2015. AGE followed this process, as older workers (55-65) are most at risk to become long-term unemployed or inactive when their lose their job.
Although we welcomed the Commission initiative, we highlight a lack of ambition in the original Commission proposal, in which services on offer for long-term unemployed were not specified and little reference was made to the availability of training and life-long learning and in-work assistance. These had then been included in the Council’s recommendation. The Council has also taken a very wise step to explicitly mention the provision of long-term care and childcare services as part of the integration agreements.
However, a number of points should still be regarded in the implementation phase:
- 18 months of unemployment is a very long period, member states should strive to create personalised assessments and service offers even before completing the first year of unemployment.
- Local and regional authorities should be very pro-active in implementing the recommendation, as they are often responsible for social services – both accompanying social services such as childcare and long-term care, as well as concrete job-integration services
- The recommendation needs to be underpinned by notable investment into guidance, counselling and assistance services, as well as in the availability of quality life-long learning opportunities. Since the financial crisis in 2008, life-long learning expenses have been dropping, hampering the suitability of the workforce to companies’ needs and the employability of older workers especially.