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HU - Free learning opportunities to improve the qualification level of the adult population in Hungary

Adults without lower secondary education or a vocational qualification can now apply to free training courses within the framework of the "One step forward" programme until next May, since the budget of this programme launched in January 2006 has recently been increased by HUF 280 million (EUR 1.1 million). So far 800 adults have finished their training and received a one-time allowance (in the amount of the minimum wage) paid to participants upon successful completion of the training course.

Originally, the programme funded by national and EU Structural Funds assistance with a budget of HUF 4 billion (EUR 15.7 million) was planned to provide free learning opportunities for 13 000 adults, but now the Employment Office coordinating the programme undertakes to support the training of two thousands more people from the new source.

The target group consists of low educated and unqualified adults and at least 55% of the beneficiaries must be registered as unemployed. The programme has raised much interest, but mainly those with a qualification and a job take the opportunity. "So far more than 23 thousand people have applied to the supported training programmes; many of them, however, had to be refused since the quota defined for them has been filled up or because they wanted to study a vocation which is not in demand on the labour market" - says Adrianna Sos, deputy director of the Public Employment Service.

Although 70% of the beneficiaries contracted so far have not completed primary school or have no vocational qualification, including 300 adults participating in catching-up courses preparing them to enter VET, it is particularly difficult to reach the low-educated and unqualified. It is so probably because accessibility to information is particularly problematic for this group: many of these people are inactive who do not register at the labour centres, do not read newspapers and do not get information on the available opportunities. Therefore, the budget of the programme was increased and sources re-allocated in order to extend the deadline of application in the case of those without any vocational qualification.

Source: Npszabadsg (quoted on the homepage of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour)

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