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Labour market policy initiatives in the spring budget
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In the spring amending budget for 2015, the Government proposes initiatives for a modern and sustainable working life, trainee jobs and education contracts for young people, and a historic initiative for unemployment insurance. The Government also proposes initiatives to make it easier for newly arrived immigrants (new arrivals) to establish themselves in the labour market.
Jobs for young people
Trainee jobs for young people
The Government's trainee jobs initiative targets unemployed young people aged 20–24 and is an important part of a gradual introduction of the 90-day guarantee. The purpose is to reduce youth unemployment and facilitate the generation shift in welfare services. Trainee jobs will be possible both in the welfare sector and in sectors with shortage occupations throughout the labour market.
Trainee jobs will combine 50 per cent employment with 50 per cent vocational education and training. They will be available in the welfare sector, but also elsewhere in the labour market in sectors with shortage occupations. A wage subsidy will be offered at a rate of approximately 85 per cent for trainee jobs in the welfare sector and approximately 50 per cent for trainee jobs elsewhere in the labour market in shortage occupations that require upper secondary education. For trainee jobs in the welfare sector, a supervisor grant will also be provided at a maximum rate of SEK 2 200 per month. Under the proposal, trainee jobs will be available from 1 August 2015 in most sectors, including health care and the school system. The estimated cost of this proposal is SEK 60 million in 2015, SEK 680 million in 2016, SEK 1 170 million in 2017, SEK 1 190 million in 2018 and SEK 1 200 million in 2019.
Education contracts for young unemployed people
The purpose of the education contract is to encourage unemployed young people aged 20–24 to begin or return to studies aimed at completing upper secondary education. The education contract is an important element of a gradual implementation of the 90-day guarantee for unemployed young people.
Within the framework of an education contract, it will be possible to study full-time or to combine part-time studies with work or a work experience placement, according to the individual's situation. Education contracts depend on cooperation arrangements being developed between central and local government. In the spring amending budget, the Government proposes an education contract initiative totalling SEK 380 million in 2015. In the coming years, the initiative is estimated to amount to SEK 790 million in 2016, SEK 780 million in 2017 and 2018, and SEK 800 million in 2019. Under the proposal, the earliest date on which education contracts will enter into effect is 1 August 2015.
Promoting local cooperation against youth unemployment
It is important that young people obtain work or are accepted into a programme that leads to work or education. Municipalities and county councils are important actors in the fight against youth unemployment. In December 2014, the Government appointed a delegation with a mandate to promote a greater impact at local level for labour market policy measures against youth unemployment. The delegation will receive funds to provide grants for measures that promote local cooperation between municipalities and Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish public employment service). The proposed resources amount to SEK 75 million in 2015, SEK 90 million in 2016 and SEK 25 million in 2017.
Early disbursement of resources for EU employment initiative and the national Social Funds programme
With high youth unemployment and many people outside the labour market, it is essential to make full use of the funding available through the European Social Fund. Social Fund actions are an important complement to ordinary labour market policy measures.
To speed up implementation of the EU employment initiative for young people and other parts of the new Social Fund programme, the disbursement of European Social Fund resources will be brought forward. The proposed increase will amount to SEK 50 million in 2015. In addition, these resources will be increased by SEK 222 million in 2016, SEK 360 million in 2017 and SEK 46 million in 2018. The increased funding will come to a total of SEK 678 million in the period 2015–2018 and will entail a corresponding reduction later during the 2014–2020 programme period. This does not affect the total resources available under the Social Fund over time, which is controlled by the EU.
Modern working life
Investments in the work environment for a modern and sustainable working life
During the past two electoral periods, work environment policies have been cut back. The number of work-related injuries and illnesses has increased, as has sickness absence. At the same time, working life faces major changes, as global competition continues to increase along with demands for more people to carry on working longer. The Government proposes to put the necessary augmented resources into the area of work environment policy to tackle these developments.
The Swedish Work Environment Authority's appropriation will be increased by SEK 20 million from July 2015 onwards. For 2016, the appropriation will be augmented by an estimated additional SEK 35 million and from 2017 onwards by a further SEK 5 million. This initiative will make it possible to improve the Authority's supervisory activities in the work environment area and to employ more inspectors. The central government grant for regional safety representatives will be increased by SEK 9 million from July 2015 onwards, and by an estimated additional SEK 1 million from 2016 onwards.
A special initiative for working life research will be implemented in 2015–2018, with a focus on women's work environment problems and work-related ill health. An enhancement of the skills supply for occupational health services will also begin, starting in July 2015.
An active labour market policy
Higher ceiling for unemployment benefits
The benefits provided by unemployment insurance have eroded over a prolonged period. Few of those covered now have benefits amounting to 80 per cent of their earned income during the first 100 days. The Government considers that raising the highest daily allowance in the income-related unemployment insurance system is vital to enable unemployment insurance to serve as insurance against loss of income and as a safety net for the individual in the event of unemployment.
In the spring amending budget the Government therefore proposes an increase in the highest daily allowance to SEK 910, which means that a person with a monthly income of up to SEK 25 000 will receive 80 per cent of their income for the first 100 days of benefits, after which the allowance will be scaled down to SEK 760 per day. The highest daily allowance is currently SEK 680 per day. The Government also proposes an increase in the minimum level of compensation from unemployment insurance from SEK 320 to SEK 365 per day. The higher level of compensation from unemployment insurance also includes the activity support provided to individuals who qualify for compensation from the unemployment insurance system. Under the proposal, these changes will take effect on 7 September 2015. It is estimated that this proposal will cost SEK 880 million in 2015. For 2016–2019, the estimated cost of the reform is approximately SEK 2.8 billion per year.
The Government intends to discontinue phase 3. The Government therefore proposes the introduction of 'extra jobs' in certain parts of welfare services. Participants in phase 3 may be offered a position in certain areas of welfare services. These positions will be for 75 per cent of full-time hours with wages in accordance with collective agreements. During the rest of their time, the individuals concerned are expected to look for work or study. The employer will receive financial support corresponding to the entire wage cost. This support will be available for up to 12 months, with the possibility of extension for a further 12 months.
The support will be made available to services where it can be implemented within the framework of EU state aid rules, pending notification to the EU so as to be able to extend it to other services too, such as elderly care. The extra jobs proposal will take effect in August 2015 at the earliest, at an estimated cost of SEK 10 million in 2015, SEK 560 million in 2016, SEK 1 660 million in 2017, SEK 2 430 million in 2018 and SEK 2 630 million in 2019.
Adult education initiative in phase 3
The Government proposes the introduction of a possibility for participants in phase 3 to take short study courses (maximum duration one year) while retaining activity support within the framework of adult education, higher education, university and vocational higher education. This will be conditional on the formal eligibility requirements being met and admission taking place in competition with other qualified applicants.
At present, few participants in phase 3 choose to study, despite great educational needs. This may involve supplementing upper secondary education or taking a vocationally oriented course to improve the chances of getting a job. It is suggested that the proposal take effect in August 2015 at the earliest.
Increased resources for Arbetsförmedlingen
The Government has launched a reform of Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish public employment service) to promote modernisation and development. Arbetsförmedlingen is tasked with arranging jobs both for people who are close to the labour market and people who are far from it, so as to create confidence among employers and jobseekers alike. The Government proposes an increase of SEK 210 million in Arbetsförmedlingen's administrative appropriation for 2015. In subsequent years, the estimated increase would amount to SEK 260 million in 2016, SEK 240 million in 2017 and SEK 140 million from 2018 onwards. The additional resources are intended to enable effective implementation of the Government's priority reforms, such as trainee jobs, education contracts and extra jobs, starting in 2015. During 2015, additional funds will also be made available to create better opportunities for development work and matching in the introduction system.
Civil society initiative to facilitate introduction of new arrivals
The Government is committing an additional SEK 30 million to activities in the civil society and local government sectors aimed at creating better conditions for new arrivals to establish themselves in society. This is an enhancement of the 'Section 37a funds', i.e. funds made available under Section 37a of the Ordinance on state compensation for measures for certain aliens (2010:1122). The initiative encompasses activities that aim to make it easier to become established in society, create networks, support language learning or provide social support to unaccompanied minors. Examples include social activities, study circles, activities to support language learning, mentorship and activities of sports associations.
The purpose is to enable new arrivals to make contact with people who are established in Sweden who can share knowledge and experience that is valuable during the initial period in Sweden. The Government has also issued an invitation to a dialogue in early May on how civil society can play a larger and more important role in the introduction of new arrivals. The civil society initiative focuses on voluntary, not-for-profit organisations. The proposal is included in the Government's spring amending budget and applies for 2015.
Increased compensation to municipalities for SFI for people living in accommodation centres
The appropriation for compensation to municipalities should be increased by SEK 50 million in 2015 so as to enhance the compensation to municipalities for participants in Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) who have been granted a residence permit and are living in accommodation provided by the Migration Board pending relocation to a municipality. It is important that new arrivals have the opportunity to participate in SFI while waiting to start an introduction plan. The Government also considers that the rules for compensation need to be changed so that municipalities receive compensation for the time each individual participates in SFI and for all participants, which is not the case under the current rules.
Funds for increased refugee reception capacity
The county administrative boards provide compensation to municipalities for measures aimed at creating preparedness and reception capacity for new arrivals and for developing cooperation aimed at making it easier to become established in society. Priority is to be given to measures that make it easier to take up residence and substantially increase preparedness and reception capacity. This compensation is provided under Section 37 of the Ordinance on state compensation for measures for certain aliens (2010:1122).
The Government proposes to allocate a further SEK 20 million under Section 37, a doubling of existing funds during 2015. The proposal will give county administrative boards better opportunities to encourage preparedness and capacity in the municipalities. Municipalities will have more scope to receive new arrivals. New arrivals can be placed in municipalities and begin their introduction activities more quickly.
Fast track for introduction of new arrivals
In March 2015, the Government launched a first round of tripartite talks on a 'fast track' to the labour market for new arrivals. The Government wants to work with the social partners and Arbetsförmedlingen to identify forms and measures for making the best use of valuable skills possessed by new arrivals with education or experience in shortage occupations so that they can be matched more quickly with the needs of relevant industries and enterprises.
Better matching and validation can be important components of a fast track, along with supervision and vocationally-oriented instruction in Swedish. These measures already exist but it is a matter of finding ways to improve matching between the needs of employers and the skills of new arrivals. The idea is to find package solutions that are appropriate for the skills supply needs in relevant industries.
After a first round of talks, the parties have been called upon to consider what they can do to help bring about more employment, subsidised employment or work experience placements for the target group and what help they may need from the Government to achieve the objective. The parties will be instructed to report to the Government at a second round of talks in the autumn. Hopefully, a first fast track can be operational during 2016.
Pilot scheme in accommodation centres
The Government intends to instruct Arbetsförmedlingen to conduct a pilot scheme to test measures to identify new arrivals' vocational skills during their time in accommodation provided by the Migration Board. It is important that the time spent in an accommodation centre pending placement in a municipality is put to meaningful use. Early action has a bearing on new arrivals' entry into the labour market.
Review of compensation to municipalities
All of Sweden's municipalities must take joint responsibility for receiving refugees. Having said that, they must be given reasonable and stable conditions that make it possible to plan municipal activities. The Government therefore intends to appoint an inquiry to review compensation to municipalities. Terms of reference are currently being prepared at the Government Offices for adoption before the summer.
More in the spring budget in the labour market policy area
More places in programmes
In the spring amending budget the Government also proposes additional resources to enable more places in labour market policy programmes. The aim is to enhance the ability of Arbetsförmedlingen to offer places in programmes early on during unemployment.
Tougher requirements for new start jobs
The Government is also announcing tougher requirements for new start jobs in the Budget Bill for 2016. The status of collective agreements must be defended and individuals working in a position under the new start job scheme must be entitled to the protection given by terms of employment in collective agreements.
Validation in the introduction system
The Government is allocating SEK 50 million for validation measures within the introduction system. The validation process needs to be made more effective so that new arrivals can become established in the labour market more quickly.