Bringing the long-term unemployed back into work

Bringing the long-term unemployed back into work


Over 100 stakeholders attended a conference in Brussels on 'Bringing the long-term unemployed back into work'. The event marked the end of the two-year long term unemployment (LTU) project developed by the ESF Transnational Platform's Thematic Network (TN) on Employment and led by Eamonn Davern.

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, explained in her opening address that  The Commission’s priority has been to “bring back jobs and inclusive growth, making sure that the benefits of recovery reach everyone in society”.

According to the Commission evaluation, published in April 2019, good progress has been made on the implementation of the recommendation yet more still needs to be done.

The Brussels conference provided an opportunity for stakeholders working on long-term unemployment to share strengths, weaknesses, challenges and good practices on how to bring the long-term unemployed back into work.

Parallel workshops identified challenges, success factors and key recommendations for policymakers in each of the three areas addressed by the LTU project: single case history, placement sustainability and targeted support.

Shared case histories
A single, coherent view of the client is essential to the delivery of personalised, integrated services to the long-term unemployed. One of the outputs from the LTU project is a guide on how to produce a single case history.

The three recommendations for EU and national policymakers are:

  • EU guidelines on the implementation of a single point of contact (SPOC) used in the use of EU Funds and European Semester process;

  • additional support from the European Commission to pilot an integrated services approach in Member States;

  • Member States to strengthen their commitment to and implementation of integrated services.

Placement sustainability

The long-term unemployed are particularly prone to what is called 'churn'. “It can be quite difficult for them to find a job and when they do they have a greater propensity to drop out of work again than somebody who has got a more frequent work record,” said Mr Davern.

The workshop on placement sustainability came up with a list of seven ways the EU and national policymakers can fight churn:

  • more funding and political commitment from Member States;

  • a legislative framework that ensures continuous support, even when the person has found employment;

  • a long-term vision for employment and skills;

  • using the European Semester process;

  • monitoring and evaluating practices;

  • transnational cooperation;

  • promoting inclusion and diversity.

Targeted support

The third strand of the LTU project set out to consider ways to make active labour market programmes (ALMPs) provide a better bridge from long-term inactivity to work.

“There is some evidence that people tend to cycle around lots of different ALMPs without getting into a job,” said Mr Davern. “What we have been looking at is what we can do to try and better target people before they start – to move them in the right direction, get them equipped for a job, and when they get into a job make sure we can sustain their employment.”

Spanish ‘launchpads’ for employment

One positive example of sustainable employment comes from an ESF project in Spain. The Santa Maria la Real Foundation set up the 'lanzaderas' (launchpads) programme in 2013. The launchpads empower the long-term unemployed through routines, mutual support and matching of skills. According to Natalia Serrano, from the Foundation, each euro invested in the programme sees a 2.8 euro return. Over 60% of participants secured jobs on contracts of more than 2 months duration, 20.9% higher than for a comparison group of long-term unemployed people.

This example shows how targeted support helps develop integration pathways to overcome multiple barriers to employability.

The targeted support workshop delivered five recommendations to policymakers:

  • avoid funding gaps;

  • better implementation of monitoring and indicators, especially quality indicators and outcome satisfaction;

  • mutual learning / transnational cooperation;

  • linking employment and social inclusion actors and services / integrated active inclusion approach;

  • pay better attention to disparities (countries/regions/groups etc.).

More information on the LTU project is available on the ESF TP website and the LTU website of the European Commission.

To watch the video on Lanzederas and other LTU-related videos click here