2001 Territorial Employment Pact agreed for Vienna
For several years, the social partners, Vienna city council, the Labour Market Service and other institutions have jointly operated a Territorial Employment Pact for the Austrian capital. Encouraged by the success of the scheme, the partners have decided to continue their cooperation in 2001 through a new Pact.
Since the mid-1990s, the city council, the Labour Market Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) and social partner organisations have been cooperating to improve the employment situation in Vienna, which had been relatively poor for some years. In the late 1990s, these efforts were translated into a Territorial Employment Pact (TEP) (AT9906152F), within the framework of the EU's TEP initiative to improve local and regional labour markets by promoting consensus and cooperation between all relevant local actors (AT9906151F). The participants have recently decided to continue the Pact in 2001. The context is a positive trend in the Austrian labour market, where the unemployment rate was 3.1% in December 2000 - much lower than the EU average of 8.2%. Unemployment has fallen in most age groups, sectors and provinces, including Vienna. However, the unemployment rate in Vienna is still about 5%.
Goals of the 2001 TEP
For the implementation of the 2001 TEP, ATS 642 million is being provided by the AMS and the Vienna Employee Promotion Fund (Wiener ArbeitnehmerInnen-Förderungsfonds, WAFF). Unemployed participants in the Pact's programmes are supported by the AMS with an additional ATS 120 million.
The goals of the TAP for 2001 are as follows:
- 9,500 people should participate in the Pact's labour market measures;
- about 1,400 companies should be supported by the TEP's programmes and services;
- women should make up 55% of participants in the Pact's measures and receive 55% of its financial means; and
- specific measures should be initiated for a minimum of 1,500 persons aged over 45 years
The main focus of the 2001 TEP is on three target groups, as follows.
Long-term unemployed people and older workers
Combating long-term unemployment and unemployment among older workers is seen as one of the most challenging demands of labour market policy in Vienna. The Vienna AMS has already implemented a variety of measures in this area, which will be supported by the TEP initiatives.
The programme for long-term unemployed persons contains a variety of assistance and training measures. For example, companies will be offered attractive subsidies when they employ long-term unemployed people, and these employees will be offered company-related training through WAFF programmes. In addition, people facing severe placement problems should be integrated into specific programmes, mostly projects of public benefit. In respect of the (re)employment of older workers, the legal obligation to announce the dismissal of older workers to the AMS (TN0010201S) should be used as the basis for an immediate policy response. The AMS should explore alternatives to the dismissal (such as part-time work) or work out a strategy to re-employ the dismissed workers as soon as possible.
Combating gender-related segmentation in the labour market and promoting equal opportunities for women and men is a priority of the Vienna TEP. Accordingly, the "women's quota" of 55% (see above) has been introduced and programmes for specific groups of women have been launched.
Women who are disadvantaged in the labour market due to childcare may receive support in respect of information about vocational training, continuation of their current job or re-employment, as well as support in the organisation of childcare. In addition, these women will be offered individual training programmes. Comprehensive assistance (such as training and career planning advice) will also be provided for women who have temporarily left the labour market because of childcare responsibilities for at least one and a half years. The programmes run by FAST, the women's employment foundation within the WAFF, are designed to reintegrate into the labour market women who have lost their jobs. A specific focus of these programmes is on individual training measures. Women should not only be enabled to be re-employed but also helped to pursue a career in their jobs.
Employees in need of new skills
Economic and labour market research indicates that there will be a shortage of labour in certain sectors and branches over the coming years. Furthermore, the skills requirements on employees are changing rapidly, and skilled and qualified employees are increasingly important for companies. Given this context, the 2001 TEP provides for specific measures for companies in respect of staff training.
WAFF supports personnel development in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME s), through specific measures to implement systematic personnel development programmes. Up to 50% of the costs of SMEs' external training programmes are covered to a maximum of ATS 300,000 each. SMEs will also be supported when introducing innovations. The costs of specialists developing these innovations in companies (Innovationsassistent) are covered up to 50%, as are 50% of the costs of innovation-related external training programmes. The 2001 TEP also promotes the establishment of inter-company cooperation bodies for conducting training measures, known as Qualifizierungsverbünde. A Qualifizierungsverbundis a sustained cooperation involving at least three companies, which introduce joint qualification and skills programmes for their employees and utilise the associated "synergy" effects. The WAFF supports the establishment and implementation of these programmes through continuing assistance measures. The WAFF may also provide financial means of up to ATS 1 million for each company concerned.
Companies in expanding sectors such as information technology face difficulties finding qualified personnel. These companies are supported by a "cluster support programme". This involves individual qualification measures concentrating on a specific activity and planned as on-the-job training. During the period when the employee concerned is undergoing training, the company does not pay their wage costs. The Vienna Business Promotion Fund (Wiener Wirtschaftsförderungsfonds, WWFF) and the WAFF have also initiated a joint project in 11 districts of Vienna, aimed at supporting companies in the field of personnel recruitment, information about training programmes and other company-related support measures.
The previous Vienna TEPs are deemed as having been very successful by the social partners and the authorities. Along with the current favourable economic developments, the Pacts are regarded as an important factor in the recent positive labour market development in Vienna. A notable feature of the 2001 TEP is that those responsible for it are pursuing a "gender-mainstreamed" view of the programmes by granting more than half of the financial means to women and by ensuring that 55% of all programme participants are female. Training measures are an important element of the 2001 TEP. A further interesting aspect is that the TEP provides for a variety of specific measures aimed at promoting employment and training in "new economy" sectors. (Angelika Stueckler, University of Vienna).