Social partners sign agreement on Youth Guarantee
On 14 January 2014, social partners in Lithuaniasigned a memorandum agreeing to cooperate on the implementation of the country’s Youth Guarantee initiative. The aim is to train young people for the labour market in a way that also takes account of the needs of the economy, helping them to acquire the skills and qualifications that will make them employable. It was also agreed that young people should be offered a job or training within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed.
A Youth Guarantee initiative was launched in Lithuania on 1 January 2014. The scheme seeks to ensure that all young people up to age 29 are offered either a quality job or an apprenticeship, traineeship or other continued education within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.
On 14 January 2014 the social partners – representatives of related ministries, businesses, employers, employees and youth organisations – signed a cooperation memorandum to implement the scheme effectively.
The partners will work together to ensure young people are trained for the labour market in a way that takes account of the needs of the national economy.
Four government ministers signed the memorandum: the Minister for Social Security and Labour, Algimanta Pabedinskienė, the Minister for Education and Science, Dainius Pavalkis, the Minister for the Economy, Evaldas Gustas, and the Minister for Agriculture, Vigilijus Jukna.
Other signatories included the President of the Lithuanian Youth Council (LIJOT), Mantas Zakarka, the President of the Lithuanian National Union of Students (LSS), Paulius Baltokas, Vice-President of the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania (LSA) Virgilijus Komskis, and Executive Director of the Investors’ Forum (IF) Rūta Skyrienė.
Business group leaders who signed the memorandum included President of Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (LPK), Robertas Dargis, President of the Lithuanian Business Confederation (LVK), Valdas Sutkus, the Director General of the Lithuanian Business Employers’ Confederation (LVDK), Danukas Arlauskas, and Director General of the Association of Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts (LPPARA), Rimantas Šidlauskas.
Union signatories were the President of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK), Artūras Černiauskas, President of Lithuanian Trade Union ‘Solidarumas’ (LPS ‘Solidarumas’) Aldona Jašinskienė, and President of the Lithuanian Labour Federation (LDF), Svajūnas Andriulis.
Implementation of the Youth Guarantee in Lithuania will cost LTL 109 million (€31 million as at 7 April 2014), allocated from the European Union Youth Employment Initiative for 2014–2015. This support will be matched by European Social Fund allocations in the 2014–20 period.
The central institution coordinating the implementation of the Youth Guarantee is the Ministry of Social Security and Labour (SADM).
Other state institutions, employers, trade unions, education establishments, non-governmental and voluntary organisations, and local self-government organisations have also been invited to join the partner network for the implementation of the Youth Guarantee initiative.
Commitments of the social partners
The Memorandum sets out a number of commitments agreed between the signatories.
They agree to explore, forecast and publish information about the need for skills and qualified professionals in different sectors to ensure a better match between the skills young people are equipped with and the needs of the labour market.
This will be supported by early intervention to improve both access to vocational guidance services and their quality. Emphasis will be placed on the offering of quality skills by the education system and the development of a framework to assess and recognise competencies.
The social partners agree to cooperate in increasing the supply and quality of vocational training through the careful design of education and training programmes, monitoring vocational trainers’ qualifications, enhancing the scope of on-the-job training, developing vocational training by apprenticeship, and publicising best practice for successful apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
New study area descriptions will be drawn up and existing ones updated. Study programmes will take account of research results and innovative practices, and they will be targeted at the needs of the labour market.
To integrate graduates into the labour market, the social partners will work together to develop traineeships or apprenticeships outside the formal education system for young people. The emphasis will be on making sure training and working conditions for schemes participants are good, that the period of training is monitored, and that the rights of trainees and apprentices are protected. This will be ensured by strategic, operational and political consultation, with the aim of formulating recommendations about future vocational training, particularly about how to improve its quality. The social partners will work together to develop the provision of apprenticeships, work experience practices and traineeships, and to submit proposals for new initiatives in this area.
Businesses and organisations willing to implement youth guarantee measures and establish new long-term sustainable jobs, apprenticeships or traineeships for young people will be supported by dedicated subsidies to compensate them for their fixed employment costs, with the possibility of getting funding for on-the-job vocational training.
The signatories have also agreed to try to build positive attitudes among young people towards business by publicising the achievements of business people and the contributions they have made to society. They will also promote opportunities for setting up new business undertakings, or acquiring a business as a career option. Youth entrepreneurship will be encouraged, particularly among those who already have skills and qualifications and are capable of running an independent business if they also have access to some skills training and mentoring. It is hoped that measures to create an environment favourable to business development and simplification of the regulation of employment relationships will also encourage entrepreneurship among the young. There will be a focus on supporting youth initiatives in rural areas.
Cooperation between state institutions, local authorities, non-governmental organisations and business entities will be improved to make it easier to integrate young people either into the labour market or the education system.
The progress of the Youth Guarantee initiative will be monitored by the social partners and other stakeholders, and its results assessed.
Inga Blaziene, Institute of Labour and Social Research of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre