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Scheme for the Job Placement and Training of Tertiary-Education Graduates

20/10/2011

The Peer Review focused on the ‘Scheme for the Job Placement and Training of Tertiary Education Graduates’ put in place by the Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus (HRDA) with a view to supporting the integration of highly qualified young people into the labour market.

The Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA) of Cyprus hosted a Peer Review that brought together government representatives and independent experts from ten countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, Serbia and the UK), as well as representatives from DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities at the European Commission.

The Scheme for the Job Placement and Training of Tertiary-Education Graduates presented by the Host Country is a consolidated programme focused on the integration of highly qualified young people into the labour market by providing practical on-the-job experience in a company for a maximum period of 12 months. The Scheme allows young people to obtain their first contact with the labour market and, at the same time, help companies, particularly SMEs, increase their awareness of new knowledge which may enhance their management capabilities. The programme, therefore, is aimed at enhancing not only the employability of the individual but also innovation in the host company. The success of this measure has led to its inclusion as an active labour market policy in the Special Prevention-Action Plan that was introduced by HRDA in close cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance in 2009, for combating unemployment.

The main conclusions of discussions have been summarised as follows:

  • The unique position of the Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus (HRDA), as the national agency responsible for human resource training and development. The HRDA of Cyprus is governed by a tripartite Board of Directors, comprising government, employer, and trade union representatives and funded by the Human Resource Development Levy paid by all employees and companies in the private sector and semi governmental organisations. The training activities promoted by the HRDA are designed to meet the needs of the economy as a whole, as well as those of enterprises and of the labour force. HRDA provides the labour market with a variety of training schemes. The HRDA ensures that approved and subsidised training is organised and implemented according to quality specifications and that this training responds to the priorities of the economy, which are set out in the form of guidelines by the HRDA in co-operation with the Planning Bureau and the Social Partners. The HRDA is therefore embedded in the system, securing employer buy-in, and providing the dedicated staff resources needed for the successful implementation and quality assurance of the scheme.
  • The simplification of procedures and flexibility are important to cut bureaucracy and secure employer engagement. The simplicity allows the scheme to cover all sectors, all company sizes and all occupations. The flexibility allows the training to be tailored to individual and company needs.
  • The scheme effectively combines different interventions (training and wage subsidies).
  • Due to the economic crisis, young graduates are an increasingly emerging target group. But young people without basic qualifications and long-term unemployed still remain a priority as they face greatest difficulties for labour market integration.
  • Measures which combine real work experience with training are effective in ensuring a smooth transition into the labour market.
  • Education and training need to be relevant to labour market needs. Companies are demanding young people with the right skills for the current employment opportunities and the capacity to adapt to the fast-changing labour market. Whilst the delivery of generic skills is considered to be the role of public education systems, employers have a responsibility in the delivery of specific skills and should also contribute to the regular updating of employee skills and competences.
  • Cost-sharing arrangements ensure better commitment from the employer. But some peer country representatives thought it would be a barrier because of companies not being familiar with that practice. The Cypriot levy model was highlighted as an effective practice in pulling resources together to deliver wider benefits and ensuring sustainability of this type of scheme.
  • The link between innovation in employers practices and employment policy should be further elaborated. The aim is to not only maintain actual jobs through adaptation but to create new and better jobs.
  • These initiatives must be cost-effective. Studies and evaluations are needed to provide the evidence to underpin the investment in this type of measure. As shown by the Cypriot experience, appropriate follow-up at different points in time and evaluation of the outcomes led to the appropriate revision of the features of the scheme; making it responsive to the different economic circumstances.
  • This type of measure can contribute to changing employer culture regarding identification of, and investment in, training, particularly for SMEs.
  • The differentiation of funding levels with higher incentives to smaller enterprises is a feature in many graduate placement schemes, to act as an incentive for participation.
  • There is value in employers recruiting staff before applying for involvement in a scheme. But this can raise issues regarding the use of European funding for this type of measure.
  • The combination of an individualised action plan and on the job training makes this measure transferable to other target groups (e.g. all unemployed, older workers). Individual learning pathways are key for those most disengaged from the labour market but certain elements such as duration and type of training will need to be tailored to the needs of the different groups.

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