The Activation programme for employment (Programa de Activación para el Empleo - PAE), agreed between the government and the social partners in December 2014, aims to improve employability of the long-term unemployed in a situation of special need.

It involves implementation of active employment policies and financial support for a maximum of six months (80% of the public income indicator multiple effect, IPREM, EUR 426). The programme has been extended to April 2017, and the target group of potential beneficiaries has been broadened to those registered as jobseekers in any of the public employment services by April 2016; previously it was accessible only to those registered by December 2014.

By March 2016, the activation programme had offered guidance services – a personalised insertion support scheme – to 161 583 long-term unemployed; approximatively 100 000 of these have also qualified for the long-term unemployment financial benefits. Up to February 2016, 15 212 beneficiaries (16%) had found a job.

A novel aspect of the programme, aiding the insertion of a group of workers who specifically have difficulties in entering the labour market, is that beneficiaries of the financial aid can also receive a salary. As a result of this measure, 87% of those recruited while benefiting from the support have kept their jobs after completing the programme.

Trade unions, however, believe the conditions for accessing the programme are too rigid, limiting access for many long-term unemployed who are potential beneficiaries. As a consequence, funds applied are lower than originally budgeted.

The PREPARA retraining programme, a protection mechanism in place since 2011 for the long-term unemployed, was last extended in February for six months, to August 2016. New measures foresee automatic extension of the programme until unemployment falls below 18% (previously the threshold was set at 20%) to ensure maintenance of the programme after that date. The objective is to improve the employability of the long-term unemployed or those unemployed with family responsibilities. It includes individualised and personalised career guidance and orientation (Itinerario personalizado de inserción) developed by the public employment services and financial support of EUR 400 (EUR 450 for those with family responsibilities) for a maximum of six months. From December 2011 to mid-April 2016, more than 650 000 people benefited from the PREPARA programme.

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