Event rationale and objectives
The economic downturn has led to a marked increase in long-term unemployment. In 2015 there were almost 4 million more European citizens out of work for over one year compared to 2007. Although recently employment growth has somewhat improved, in 2015 nearly half of the jobless in the EU were long-term unemployed (LTU), affecting almost 11 million people (4.5% of the active EU population). Close to two-thirds of them (6.8 million) have been out of work for over two years (very long-term unemployed, VLTU).
Addressing long-term unemployment is one of the key challenges of the EU’s jobs and growth agenda, as its persistence and higher risk of skills deterioration are barriers to labour market integration and lead to social exclusion. The recent Council recommendation on the labour market integration of the long-term unemployed and the European Commission’s New Skills Agenda for Europe call for a multi-faceted strategy that combines macroeconomic policy with better activation and skills policies. Such policies should include better skills profiling and validation, identification of skill needs in the local economy and targeted training combined with individualized career guidance and counselling. They depart from ‘work-first’ approaches to activation.
The aim of the policy learning forum (PLF) was to inform approaches to VET within activation measures that put upskilling and skill matching centre stage. The forum sought to ‘put policy into practice’ by moving beyond theory and empirical analysis and towards a deeper understanding of features, mechanisms and triggers underpinning effectiveness of innovative practices from across the EU. The PLF served as a platform for debate and mutual learning for key stakeholders involved in the design and delivery of VET and skill matching programs as part of activation policies.
Methodology of the policy learning forum
Following a similar format to other successful PLFs organised by Cedefop, the PLF on ‘Vocational training for the long-term unemployed’ required active participation from all participants, both before and during the forum:
- case study presenters submitted a short written input summarising features of vocational training measures for the long-term unemployed in their organisation or country and lessons learned from practice;
- case-study presenters were asked to deliver more in-depth information to Cedefop to be used for short (one page) schematic summaries of the initiatives they will present at the forum;
- during the forum, participants were expected to contribute to the debate and exchange experiences.
The PLF was build on Cedefop’s publication on ‘Tackling unemployment while addressing skill mismatch: Lessons from policy and practice in EU countries