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Latvia should expand work-based vocational training to boost young people’s job prospects

 

27/8/2015 - Latvia should step up its efforts to improve the employment prospects of young people by continuing to reform its vocational education system and pursuing the commitments made as part of the Youth Guarantee to further reduce the share of young people under 30 who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs).

 

Investing in Youth: Latvia says that Latvia has seen a sharp decline in the NEET rate since the crisis to 16.5%, but that there are still too few employment opportunities for young people. The youth unemployment rate of 16.4% remains nearly twice as high as in 2007.

 

A major challenge is that nearly one in three NEETs are unemployed but not registered with the public employment service or not looking for work without good reason. Over 70% of NEETs remain out of work or education for more than six months. Young women, the low-educated and youth with poor health tend to remain out of work or education the longest.

 

Recent comprehensive reforms implemented by the Latvian government are an important step towards a modern and more attractive vocational education system, says the OECD. The VET system however remains nearly entirely school-based, and the relationships between schools and employers are often weak.

 

The Youth Guarantee introduced in 2014 represents a strong opportunity for bringing NEETs back into education or work. While it is too early to assess its impact, participation rates among NEETs in training programmes have strongly increased, and the provision of career guidance has been expanded.

 

To help more young people into work, the OECD recommends that Latvia:

 

  • Improve the sharing of information on school attendance between schools, municipalities and the national authorities to further reduce early school-leaving and programme non-completion, ensure that drop-outs receive the support they need, and facilitate the evaluation of general and vocational education programmes;
  • Continue its reforms of the vocational education system strengthening the role of work-based training, ideally through development of a quality apprenticeship system in which students are matched to single employers. This could involve a system of financial incentives to encourage employers to provide high-quality training;
  • Improve and reinforce career counselling in schools to guide students at risk of dropping out and motivate them to enrol into vocational education programmes;
  • Strengthen the co-operation between the public employment service and municipal welfare services to ensure comprehensive support for at-risk youth, and further reduce caseloads per counsellor especially for the most disadvantaged youth;
  • Tighten the links between income support receipt and active job search or programme participation for employable NEETs;
  • Phase out the public employment programmes for youth introduced during the crisis and consider expanding targeted hiring subsidies for low-skilled youth and those who recently completed an intensive training programme.

 

For more information on Investing in Youth: Latvia, go to http://www.oecd.org/countries/latvia/investing-in-youth-latvia-9789264240407-en.htm

 

Journalists should contact the OECD Media Division (news.contact@oecd.org, +33 1 4524 9700).

 

******NOTE TO EDITORS*****

 

Latvia is currently working through an Accession Roadmap, which sets out the terms, conditions and process for its accession to the Organization. The Accession Roadmap calls for a series of in-depth reviews conducted by 21 OECD technical committees, which, in turn, will provide a formal opinion to the OECD Council on Latvia’s willingness and ability to implement OECD standards and of its policies and practices as compared to OECD best policies and practices in the relevant area.

 

These reviews are seen as an opportunity to support the Latvian authorities in pushing forward reforms in line with OECD standards and best practices. There is no set timeline or end date for the accession process, and progress made ultimately depends on the ability of Latvia to respond to recommendations made by OECD committees, formed by its Members, in order to successfully complete the technical reviews.

 

The 34 member OECD promotes policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people worldwide. The Organisation provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.

 

For further information on Latvia’s accession process, go to: http://www.oecd.org/countries/latvia/oecd-sets-out-roadmap-for-latvias-membership.htm.

 

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