New employment strategy introduced

  • 2001-03-01
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - A new employment program developed by the Social Affairs Ministry and approved by the government Feb. 27 focuses on tackling long-term unemployment. The government supported the program by setting aside over 10 million kroons ($609,000) from the national reserve fund.

The ministry originally applied for nearly 11.2 million kroons, but officials at the Finance Ministry advised the government to reduce the sum, stating that only concrete programs already in action deserve such funding.

"The target group comprises young people, the disabled and other people in risk groups," said Jan-Erik Teder, chief specialist of the labor market department at the ministry.

According to Teder, the smaller sum will to some extent limit the implementation of the program. "But anyway, it's good that we at least got this much," he said.

The program will help to create proper working conditions for disabled people and arrange special training on employment issues for young people.

The full name of the program is complicated. "Increasing employment, the avoidance of long-term unemployment and preventing the exclusion from working life of people in risk groups" aims to boost funds already earmarked to combat unemployment. These are usually financed from the state budget by means of bilateral cooperation projects, with support from the PHARE program and the government's non-budgetary reserve fund.

The major problem for the Estonian labor market, according to the architects of the program, is the structural mismatch of supply and demand.

The Social Affairs Ministry's employment department predicts that in the next few years unemployment will rise by an average of 4,000 people annually, while the number of Estonian residents will decrease by about 7,000 a year. This will make the situation within the labor market even more complicated. Getting a job is an even bigger challenge for those in disadvantaged groups who are unfamiliar with the Estonian language.