Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs

The Slovak Republic needs to improve job prospects for youth

 

26/06/2007 - The Slovak Republic has cut youth unemployment significantly over the past five years but many obstacles to finding a job remain for young people, according to a new OECD report.

The report “Jobs for Youth: The Slovak Republic” notes that the youth unemployment rate remains the second highest among OECD member countries, despite falling to 27% in 2006 from its historical peak of 37% in 2001. In addition, almost 60% of unemployed people aged 15-24 have been looking for jobs for more than a year, compared with an OECD average of 21%. A similar picture emerges with employment rates: only 26% of young people were in work in 2006, compared to the OECD average of 42%. (see table)

A number of barriers need to be removed to help young people join the labour market and benefit from the Slovak Republic’s strong economic growth which is projected to reach 8.75% in 2007. In particular, vocational secondary schools, attended by 75% of Slovak students, are not well adapted to rapidly changing labour market requirements. The links between tertiary education and the labour market are also weak, which may help explain why international firms newly established in the Slovak Republic face difficulties in finding qualified personnel. There are also demand-side obstacles to youth employment. Employers, for example, are faced with high social security contributions on low-paid work. There is insufficient support to help the young unemployed find work, and young parents to reconcile family and work responsibilities. Finally, job prospects for youth are hampered by limited regional mobility.

The OECD report makes a number of recommendations to address these issues:

  • Involve firms in both the definition of curricula and the funding of vocational education. Such funding by firms is much less developed in the Slovak Republic than in other OECD countries. Firms should co-finance vocational education. This will help ensure that the skills developed in vocational schools match those in demand in the labour market and reduce the number of unfilled vacancies.
  • Put in place an effective apprenticeship system. It is crucial for vocational education to put greater emphasis on so-called “dual” apprenticeship systems, where teaching in school alternates with learning at the workplace. Experience with such dual systems suggests that this can be an effective way of enabling a much smoother transition of young people into jobs.
  • Promote tertiary vocational education. Tertiary education needs to be less theoretical and short tertiary education with a professional orientation could be introduced, as is already done in other countries. 
  •  Ensure that unemployed youth have access to efficient public employment service (PES). The PES must devote enough time and resources to screen young jobseekers and make proposals adapted to individual needs at an early stage. Those with low or inadequate qualifications should, as soon as possible, be offered an opportunity to receive more education in second-chance schools, combined with the possibility to acquire work experience in a firm.
  • Transform Graduate Practice into a true activation programme. It is important to offer unemployed youth an opportunity to acquire initial experience in firms that leads to formal qualifications. This would imply transforming Graduate Practice from an internship programme into a system combining work experience in firms with training. Graduate Practice should be targeted to young jobseekers who are deemed disadvantaged in terms of skills, professional experience, or other characteristics.
  • Lower social security contributions on low-paid work. Labour costs are too high with respect to the expected productivity of young people with very low qualifications. Lower contributions would help both improve the job prospects of unskilled youth and reduce the incidence of undeclared work.
  • Strengthen activation policies for young Roma. The employment situation of the Roma minority is extremely worrying and young Roma should receive more support. The proposed reforms should go hand-in-hand with the enforcement of vigorous anti-discrimination measures, both at schools and in the labour market.
  • Promote internal mobility. Internal mobility could be facilitated to help jobseekers taking up new employment opportunities in other regions.

The report, entitled “Jobs for Youth: The Slovak Republic”, is the latest in a series launched by the OECD in some sixteen countries.  This publication is available to journalists from the OECD's Media Division (tel.+ 33 1 45 24 97 00). The report can be purchased in paper or electronic form through the OECD’s Online Bookshop. Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online version via SourceOECD.

For further comment, journalists are invited to contact Anne Sonnet in the OECD’s Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate (tel. +33 1 45 24 91 69).

 

 

 

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