EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Romania: ERM comparative analytical report on Recent Policy Developments related to those Not in Employment, Education and Training (NEET)

  • Observatory: EMCC
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 06 February 2012



About
Country:
Romania
Author:
Luminita Chivu, Laurentiu Georgescu
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The difficulties encountered by fresh graduates seeking a job have worsened during the past decade. NEETs are a category that attracts very little interest from the social partners, because they are neither trade union members, nor employees. In recent years, however, the financial resources available for them, particularly since 2009, through the Sectoral Operational Programme for the Development of Human Resources, have increased substantively, stirring interest on the side of employers, employees, and central or local authorities, for various projects, some of which address the issue of smoothing the access of young NEETs to the labour market. Concerted efforts by educational establishments and the actors on the labour market, nationally and EU-wise, will be the only way to secure workplaces for the youths.

1. Introduction

1.1 What is the level of interest among the different stakeholders in your country (policy makers, the media, employers and trade unions) in the issue of NEETs? What are their reasons for having a high/ low level of interest in the topic? (Expected length 100 words)

The interest of decision makers and the political class at large is obviously on the rise each time elections approach. The government has shown a growing interest for the reform of the national educational system, with a stress on optimising the spending of the allocated funds.

The Sectoral Operational Plan for Human Resources Development (SOP HRD) 2007 – 2013, financed from the European Social Fund, and from national public and private funds, creates, to a certain extent, the framework for the integration of the concerns regarding education with those related to the demand and trends on the labour market.

SOP – HRD has a number of priority axes and major areas of intervention managed by the Ministry of Education Research Youth and Sports (Ministerul Educaţiei, Cercetării, Tineretului şi Sportului, MECTS), and the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection (Ministerul Muncii, Familiei şi Protecţiei Sociale, MMFPS), which make it mandatory for the educational system to cooperate towards a better adaptation to the demands of the labour market.

Mostly since 2009, SOP – HRD has become the main fund contributor to investment projects in the human capital, aimed at upgrading the educational and vocational system, and at enhancing access to employment through better social inclusion of vulnerable groups, including the NEETs.

Until 2013, the SOP – HRD is designed to benefit over 1.6 million persons.

One of the objectives of the SOP – HRD is to re-enlist in schools and training programmes the persons who untimely dropped out of school, to improve employment conditions for graduates, and to adapt schooling and training curricula to the needs of the labour market.

1.2 Using the following table, please identify which sub-groups of NEETs are of particular concern to the different stakeholders in your country. Please indicate the relative importance of each group to the different stakeholders; for each group please state whether they are felt to be of ‘significant concern’, ‘some concern’, or ‘no concern’ to the different stakeholders.

Table 1 – NEETs sub-groups
 

Public/media debate

e.g. the extent to which the issue is discussed within the news media

Mainstream Policy

e.g. the range of policy documents tackling the issue, the amount of investment committed to tackling the problem

Employers

e.g. the extent to which this issue is raised as a concern, e.g. through lobbying / pressure on the government, involvement in the design and/or implementation of relevant policies

Trade unions

e.g. the extent to which this issue is raised as a concern, e.g. through lobbying / pressure on the government, involvement in the design and/or implementation of relevant policies

Young people who are unemployed

significant concern

significant concern

some concern

significant concern

Young people who are in ‘precarious’ or unsuitable employment (e.g. temporary contracts, forced self-employment, part-time work, or jobs which are not commensurate with their level of qualifications)

significant concern

significant concern

some concern

significant concern

Early school leavers – young people who have dropped out of education before obtaining an upper secondary level qualification

significant concern

significant concern

no concern

some concern

Young people with qualifications which do not meet labour market needs

significant concern

significant concern

some concern

some concern

Teenage/ single parents

some concern

no concern

no concern

no concern

Migrants and minority groups

some concern

no concern

no concern

no concern

Young people with disabilities

significant concern

significant concern

no concern

some concern

Young people from workless families

some concern

no concern

no concern

no concern

Young people from disadvantaged areas

some concern

no concern

no concern

some concern

Young people with tertiary education who have been unsuccessful in accessing the labour market

significant concern

significant concern

some concern

significant concern

Other (please specify):

.

-

-

-

-

1.3 Are there any policy measures in your country targeted at those NEETs with tertiary education? If yes please describe these briefly (expected length 100 words).

Act 76/2002, regarding unemployment insurance and measures to stimulate employment (as subsequently amended and completed), provides for a six-month unemployment benefit payable to fresh graduates, in an amount equal to 50% of the reference social indicator, even though they have no unemployment contribution record.

The social indicator represents the reference base for the social payments. In 2011, for example, the value of the reference social indicator is RON 500 (approximately EUR 120, representing 70% of the national minimum wage.)

Similarly, students and higher education graduates may obtain low-interest loans or non-refundable finance to start a business on their own, if it generates jobs for the unemployed (See Section 2.2.10 below).

Along the same line, employers are motivated to hire fresh school graduates, including higher education graduates (See 2.2.10).

For the same purpose, in 2008, the START Internship Romania programme was initiated, which is run by a public-private partnership (See 2.2.10).

2. NEET Policies and Measures

2.1 Measures to tackle early school leaving

Preventive Measures to tackle early school leaving

2.1.1 Please provide a short overview of your country’s approach to preventing early school leaving. Where does the focus of policies and measures to prevent early school leaving lie?

The frequency of school drop-outs has increased alarmingly due to widespread poverty caused by the transition to a market economy.

According to National Institute of Statistics (Institutul Naţional de Statistică, INS) data in Romania, the abandon rate in pre-university education (the number of persons that drop-outs school as percentage of the number of entrants) increased from 0.6% in school year 2000/2001 to 2.0% in 2007/2008.

To control this, the MECTS policies included measures focused both on the education of parents and children alike, on creating conditions for pre-school education for a greater number of children, and on adapting the structure of a school year to the specifics of each community (rural areas, climate, terrain, etc.).

Last but not least, aware of the effects of poverty on children’s access to school, and of the need to offer them equal chances, the government added various other incentives, one of them being a free meal at school.

2.1.2 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to prevent early school leaving in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 2 - Early School Leaving: Preventive measures

Early School Leaving: Preventive measures

Name of measure

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Measure 1: Educational programme for parents of children aged 3 to 12, under the slogan "This is how you should educate your children"

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

An educational programme of national coverage for parents of children 3 to 12 years of age, aimed at improving parental skills, and preventing school drop outs and family runaways

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Bipartite

MECTS, county school inspectorates, the Our Children Foundation (Fundaţia Copiii Noştri)

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National state funding, European funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general purport, which also covers the NEETs

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Although initially it was not designed for a specific disfavoured or minority group, now it is increasingly addressed to such segments.

Measure 2: Adjustment of the school curriculum to local specific climate, terrain, and occupational features Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Adapt school curriculum to the needs of the local school children community so that school attendance could be stimulated

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

MECTS, the county school inspectorate /local school

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National state funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general purport that addresses the NEETs as well

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Designed to serve the needs of a disfavoured /minority group.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Designed to serve the needs of a disfavoured /minority group.

2.1.3 Please provide a more detailed description of the preventive early school leaving measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • Description of the measure: aims and objectives

The National Reform Programme of Early Schooling (Programul Naţional de Reformă al Educaţiei Timpurii, PRET)

Aimed at ensuring the infrastructure and resources for the transposition of the National Early Schooling Programme

  • Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

  • Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

MECTS/county school inspectorates/the Development Bank of the Council of Europe (DBCE)

  • How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

European funding, DBCE

  • Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general purport that addresses the NEETs as well.

  • Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

It is not designed for a specific disfavoured or minority group.

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?

The measure was taken in 2008 (when the Programme was incepted) and planned to continue until 2012. Therefore its application is in progress.

  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?

Mainstream project

  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?

National. EUR 105 million BDCE.

  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?

MECTS

  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?

The teaching staff in pre-school establishments, the head masters and the caretakers in kindergartens, pre-school children and their parents.

  • What activities are involved?

Activities involved:

  • development and implementation of the training (mentoring) programme for the personnel interacting with pre-school children;
  • development and update of the National Education Data Basis (Baza de Date Naţională a Educaţiei, BDNE) with information regarding the pre-school educational system;
  • building of new premises for kindergartens, renovation of existing facilities, adequate endowment of all;
  • development and printing of specific training modules (for the teaching staff, caretakers, school advisors, head masters);
  • development and provision of the services available through the network of Centres for Educational and Development Resources.
  • What are the success factors?

The development of a mentoring programme; endowment of kindergartens; improvement of the available services.

  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

The programme benefitted a number of 21,535 pre-school teachers and pedagogues, 1,002 managers, and 10,403 caretakers.

Reintegration measures to tackle early school leaving

2.1.4 Please provide a short overview of your country’s approach to the reintegration of early school leavers. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?

Starting from 1998, the policies promoted for the purpose of assisting early school leavers to reintegrate in the educational system consisted, mainly, in two types of measures:

  • Measures to render the educational system more flexible, such as: introducing evening and extra mural classes for the secondary courses (from 5 to 8); adjusting curricula to the needs of the attendants and of the labour market; introducing the concept of school-designed curriculum;
  • Measures under the umbrella programme 'The Second Chance', which offers attendants the opportunity to complete compulsory education, and to obtain a vocational qualification.

The Second Chance Programme started in 1999, and was then prolonged with the aid of the PHARE projects for Access to Education for Disfavoured Groups, developed by MECTS in 2001 – 2009. Their purpose was to prevent and control social marginalisation and exclusion, to put in place a mechanism for the improvement of access to education and for a quality education available to disfavoured groups (particularly rroma children, and children from special schools distributed to mainstream schools).

2.1.5 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to reintegrate early school leavers in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 3 - Early School Leaving: reintegration measures

Measure 3: A free meal/snack to kindergarten and primary school children (Government Emergency Ordinance (GEO) 96/2002, and Act 16/2003, as subsequently amended and supplemented)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Offer a daily free meal/snack to stimulate school attendance

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

MECTS, the county school inspectorate /local school

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National state funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general purport that addresses the NEETs as well

Early School Leaving: Reintegration measures

Name of measure

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Measure 1: Creating curricula for evening or part time tuition

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Putting in place the adequate legislative framework for such forms of tuition, and inclusion of the requisite number of classes in the tuition plan

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral, MECTS, the county school inspectorates

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National state funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general purport that also applies to NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Not designed to serve the needs of a disfavoured /minority group

Measure 2: Recognition of competences developed in non-formal and informal conditions

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Creation of the legislative framework permitting the establishment of centres for the evaluation of competences developed in non-formal and informal conditions

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Tripartite, MECTS, the National Centre for Adult Training (Centrul Naţional de Formare Profesională a Adulţilor, CNFPA) (reorganised as the National Authority for Professional Nomenclature (Autoritatea Naţională pentru Calificări), MMFPS

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National state and private funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general purport that also applies to NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Not designed to serve the needs of a disfavoured /minority group

Measure 3: Creation of integrated curricula aimed at early helping school leavers find a job

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Development of key competences: reading, writing, reckoning, to enable persons affected by functional illiteracy find a job

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Local, 10 counties

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral, MECTS, the county school inspectorate/ local school

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

European funding

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general purport that also applies to NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Designed to serve the needs of a disfavoured group.

2.1.6 Please provide a more detailed description of the reintegration early school leaving measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • Description of the measure: aims and objectives

The Second Chance Programme

The Second Chance Programme pursues to support youths that have abandoned school for poverty reasons, to compensate school dropouts through education complementary to the comprehensive compulsory schooling, to offer vocational training adapted to every young student’s goals, and to each community’s economic and social development needs, thereby enabling the trainees find a place in society and on the labour market. The programme is a two-tier scheme: for primary (forms 1 to 4) and for lower secondary education (forms 5 to 8).

  • Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

  • Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral, MECTS/county school inspectorates

  • How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

European and national state funding

  • Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general purport that also applies to NEETs

  • Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Not designed to serve the needs of a disfavoured /minority group

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?

The measure was taken in 1999 and then extended to cover the period 2001 – 2009, under the PHARE Programme regarding Access to Education for Disfavoured Groups, and is still in progress.

  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?

Mainstream project

  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?

National, according to Government Decision no. 1395/28.12.2010, regarding cost standards/pupil

  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?

MECTS

  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?

Youths who evaded or who abandoned compulsory education.

  • What activities are involved?

Activities involved:

  • draft the methodology of the programme and the curricula;
  • draft and publish the educational materials for students and teachers (33 titles for the primary education, and 43 titles for the lower secondary education);
  • draft and publish a guidebook for school managers (the ABC of the Second Chance programme);
  • train school managers and the trainers of teaching staff;
  • conduct awareness campaigns regarding the programme , create and distribute information materials;
  • license educational establishments; monitor and assess them.
  • What are the success factors?

Flexibility; modular curriculum; evaluation of competence acquired previously (by formal, non-formal and informal means); tailor personalised training programmes, corresponding to the trainees’ expectations, and the social and economic development requirements of the community they are part of; teachers trained by the 84 trainers educated under the programme; teaching aids created for the purpose.

  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

The number of candidates that signed up for the training programme (10,000 persons); the impact study on the PHARE programme Access to Education for Disfavoured Groups, Bucharest, November 2009.

The report 'Towards Roma Inclusion. A Review of Roma Education. Initiatives in Central and South-Eastern Europe, conducted by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) (http://www.unicef.org/ceecis/ROMA_PAPER_FINAL_LAST.pdf) presents the Programme as example of Good practice. In the others, the reported results are: preschool enrolment of Roma children increased by 28.2% in ten counties; 11.6% increase in enrolment of Roma children overall; the drop-out rates for primary school halved and for lower secondary school decreased with 1.4 per cent, etc.

2.2 Measures to facilitate access to employment

Facilitating the transition from school to work

2.2.1 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to facilitating school to work transitions. Where does the focus of policies and measures to facilitate transitions lie?

The first step the government took was to enact adequate legislation: Act 76/2002, and Act 72/2007, which lays down for incentives to fresh graduates and to employers. In the recent years, acting upon a European Union initiative, a state aid scheme was put in place to finance mentoring programmes for the youth, and, since 2009, a particular stress was laid on the creation and implementation of projects for the development of human resources (through the SOP HRD), some of which channel funding to practical training sessions for school and higher education students.

2.2.2 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to facilitate school to work transitions in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 4 - Access to employment: Measures to facilitate school to work transitions

Access to employment: Measures to facilitate school to work transitions

Name of measure

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Measure 1: Money for Vocational Training – a state aid scheme with funding from the Mentoring Programme for Young Employees

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Aim: to back up general and vocational education of youths.

General objectives: to smooth the transition from school to active life; to improve vocational skills; to refresh and specialise the professional knowledge of employees.

The funding goes to: initial vocational training to help young graduates adapt to the specific requirements of their first job; assistance of fresh graduates through mentoring programmes which include coordination, guidance, and evaluation of their activity by a mentor; vocational counselling of young employees; training of mentors.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

State aid from European and national funding (maximum EUR 2 million/project)

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a general purpose measure.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

Measure 2: Act 72/2007, regarding incentives for the employment of pupils and students during school holidays

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Aimed at stimulating employers to school and higher education students during school holidays

An employer receives, for each student hired as above, a monthly incentive equal to 50% of the worth of the reference social indicator, for a maximum period of 60 business days in one calendar year.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National funding, from the unemployment insurance budget

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a measure of general applicability to school and academic students.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

Measure 3: Free consultancy and technical assistance to those seeking to start an independent activity or business venture (Act 76/2002)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Public employment services (Serviciile publice de ocupare, SPO) provide, upon request, legal, marketing, and financial counselling and assistance services, and consultancy in management techniques, to the fresh graduates who cannot find employment. This measure also benefits the students who apply for cheap loans to start a business.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National funding, from the unemployment insurance budget.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Specifically designed for NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

2.2.3 Please provide a more detailed description of the school-to-work transition measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Transition from School to Active Life is a measure sustained through the Sectoral Operational Programme for Human Resources Development (SOP HRD), Axis 2, Linking Life Long Learning and Labour Market

The general aim is to increase employability of individuals while they are still in the initial vocational education and training stage.

Specific aims: to develop the practical skills and work habits of individuals during the transition from school to an active life.

Purpose: to improve employment rate among graduates of secondary and tertiary education.

  • Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

  • Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

  • How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

From the European Social Fund (ESF), national public funds, and private contributions from beneficiaries.

  • Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a general purpose measure.

  • Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?

In 2009, one of the line financed under SOP HRD, for the period 2007 – 2013; through successive calls for project tenders.

  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?

It is a project already in operation.

  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?

For the project call of 2010, for example, the money earmarked was in the worth of approximately EUR 2.3 million.

  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?

MMFPS, through the Management authority of the SOP HRD, and MECTS through the SOP HRD Intermediate Body

  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?

School and higher education students of public educational establishments; teaching staff acting as tutors in the companies where the secondary and tertiary students do their practical training sessions. The target is to encompass at least 75 persons per project.

  • What activities are involved?

Activities to: organise the practical training sessions; develop teaching materials for the practical training; train the tutors; exchange experience and disseminate good practices.

  • What are the success factors?

The financial subsidies granted for the participation in the practical training sessions. Prises awarded at the close of the training sessions for exceptional performance during the training.

Practice sessions receive funding subject to a training agreement with potential employers.

  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

In the period 2009 – 2010, the programme was attended by 28,102 persons. Of all the participants, 15,930 were students, and 6,900 were persons who received career counselling.

Measures to foster employability

2.2.4 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to fostering employability among NEETs. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?

Concerns and measures addressing the employability of NEETs took a practical approach six years ago, when the Apprenticeship Act 279/2005, as subsequently amended and supplemented, was passed.

In recent years, youths have lost the appetite for vocational training, most of them preferring to continue schooling in high school and higher education establishments.

Since Romania’s accession to the European Union, the money received from the European Social Fund, under the SOP HRD, was used to: sustain key intervention areas designed to help secondary and tertiary education graduates access the labour market, through apprenticeship and internship programmes; provide free vocational and professional training counselling services, in order to help recipients upgrade their skills or change the profession.

One other measure is the public-private partnership, through the START Internship Romania Programme, meant to improve employability among students.

2.2.5 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to foster employability of NEETs in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 5 - Access to employment: Measures to foster employability (to include apprenticeships)

Access to employment: Measures to foster employability (to include apprenticeships).

Name of measure

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Measure 1: On-the-job apprenticeship contracts (Act 279/2005)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

The measure creates conditions for on-the-job vocational training of persons aged 16 to 25 years who have no qualification for the trade/occupation for which apprenticeship is offered.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Bipartite: According to law, employers that hire persons under an on-the-job apprenticeship contract receive, upon request, from the unemployment insurance budget, an amount equal to 60% of the worth of the reference social indicator, and the equivalent of the monthly spending for the theoretical training of each apprentice- employee.

The employer’s obligation is to offer the apprentice, during the contract period (minimum 12 months, maximum 3 years), a salary at least equal to the gross minimum wage at national level in effect at the date of the contract.

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National funds, i.e. the unemployment benefit budget, and the private funds of the company concerned.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is general purpose measure for youths aged 16 – 25 years, who have no qualification for the occupation for which on-the-job apprenticeship is provided.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

Measure 2: Access to the labour market through counselling and vocational training services, for the purpose of assisting the candidates to acquire, refresh, adjust or change qualification, or specialise

(SOP HRD, Axis 5, Key Intervention Area 5.1 Development and Implementation of active employment measures)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Designed to increase the adaptability to the requirements of the labour market. Part of the target group are also young jobless (particularly long-term jobless persons), and early school leavers.

The following entities are eligible applicants for finance under this programme: public employment offices; duly licensed suppliers of vocational training services; suppliers of specialised employment stimulation services, entities subordinated to local public authorities, social partners’ organisations, etc.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Financed from European funds, national public funds, and co-financed from the private funds of project beneficiaries.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It includes the NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

Measure 3: Learn a Trade (SOP HRD, Axis 2, KIA 2.1 Transition from school to active life)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

It purports to smooth the access of pre-academic and academic graduates to the labour market.

It earmarks fund for on-the-job learning activities (practical training for school and academic students with a potential employer, monitoring the social and vocational integration of pre-academic and academic graduates, awareness campaigns on the opportunities to have an easier access from school/student life to an employee life.

Potential beneficiaries: pre-academic and academic educational establishments, duly licensed suppliers of continuous vocational training services, employers, social partners’ organisations, etc.

The target group is formed of: pupils, students, young graduates, as well as company personnel acting as tutors, or trainers.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

European funds (ESF), national public funds, and private funds from project beneficiaries.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

General, but also applicable to NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

2.2.6 Please provide a more detailed description of the measure which you think is the most effective measure in your country to foster the employability of NEETs (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • Description of the measure: aims and objectives

The START Internship Romania project is implemented by the Junior Achievement Romania.

Its main purpose is to help young persons get used to the role of future employees (by way of internship), and to bridge the gap between the knowledge acquired in school and the demands of a real workplace.

  • Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

  • Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Tripartite – a public-private partnership, with the participation of business associates, chambers of commerce, multinationals, embassies, the Government of Romania, universities and students’ associations.

  • How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National public and private funding

  • Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a general-purpose measure meant to increase employability among graduates of higher education establishments.

  • Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?

There was a pilot version in 2008, followed by subsequent annual editions in 2009 and 2010.

  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?

Mainstream project

  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?

Students are the target. No information is available with regard to the amounts allocated for the programme.

  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?

The programme is implemented by Junior Achievement Romania, a non-profit organisation, in partnership with professional associations, students’ organisations, universities, and with the aid of the Romanian Government.

  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?

Target group: students. In 2008, the pilot edition of START Internship Romania had 800 openings in 60 multinational and Romanian companies. In the 2009 and 2010 editions, over 9,500 students from all over Romania and Romanian students learning abroad signed up for the programme; over 90 companies offered more than 1,100 internships.

  • What activities are involved?

Students are invited to register on an on-line platform that aggregates the entire panoply of available internships. In doing so, they receive a personal account through which they can interact directly with the companies providing the internships.

Once accepted, the students benefit from: mentoring, training for the offered internship; the opportunity to take part in specific projects, and to be evaluated; letter of recommendation from the company.

  • What are the success factors?

Reducing the gap between education and the requirements of the labour market

The project met with success thanks to: the flexibility of the schedule, internship sessions during the entire length of the year, evaluation at the end of the academic year, after the summer holidays; unlimited access for companies to participation guide-books, and other resources.

  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

At the initiative of the OECD Investment Compact, at the conference of the Human Capital Working Group, in Zagreb, on 17 September 2009, the programme was presented as a successful example of public-private partnership as part of a national internship programme.

The evaluations conducted revealed that approximately 15% of the youths taking part in an internship programme are hired immediately after completion of the programme, and that one out of three such students get a job after completion of studies.

Removing practical and logistical barriers

2.2.7 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to removing practical and logistical barriers for NEETs. Where does the focus of policies and measures lie?

The measures taken to remove practical and logistic barriers form the substance of one of the Axes of the SOP HRD. Starting from 2009, the money available for this Axis is used to finance projects in 3 key intervention areas: improvement of access and participation of vulnerable groups on the labour market; equal opportunities on the labour market; development of social economy.

2.2.8 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to remove practical and logistical barriers to employment for NEETs in your country. Where possible you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Table 6 - Access to employment: Measures to remove practical and logistical barriers

Access to employment: Measures to remove practical and logistical barriers

Name of measure

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Measure 1: Easing the access of vulnerable groups to the labour market (SOP HRD, Axis 6, KIA 6.2 Improving the access and participation of vulnerable groups on the labour market

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

The general purpose is to help vulnerable groups gain access to the labour market, so that the risks of social exclusion, marginalisation and poverty are avoided.

Activities: counselling and vocational guidance services aimed at motivating persons in the target group to take part in integration programmes, including awareness campaigns among rroma persons; development of personalised vocational training plans pursuing to capitalise on the individuals’ talents and basic qualifications outside compulsory (formal) education, and to provide training; accompanying measures aimed at identifying and maintaining a work place; special support to create protected jobs in companies; activities designed to prevent school drop-outs by youths; development and promotion of alternative forms of employment; development and support of social inclusion centres; offer social (maintenance) scholarships, and merit scholarships, etc.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

European funds (ESF), national public funds, and contributions from private funds of project beneficiaries.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

General measure, applicable also to NEETs

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Yes. The following vulnerable groups are targeted: rroma persons, disabled persons, youths leaving child-care institutions, drug addicts, homeless persons, immigrants, refugees seeking asylum.

Measure 2: Equal Opportunities and Respect (SOP HRD, Axis 6, KIA 6.3 Promoting Equal Opportunities on the Labour Market)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

He aim is to afford access to the labour market, promote an inclusive society, social cohesion, through vocational training in ICT of women and vulnerable groups; to offer accompanying activities, development and supply of child-care services and assistance to dependent persons; to promote the principle of equal opportunities.

Target groups: vulnerable segments, women, victims of trafficking in human beings, etc.

The following entities may qualify as applicants: non- governmental organisations, public and private suppliers of continuous vocational training, suppliers of employment stimulation services, social partners’ organisations, professional associations, companies, central and local public administration bodies, etc.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

European funds (ESF), national public funds, and contributions from private funds of the project beneficiaries.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

No, but it is equally applicable to NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

It is aimed at all types of vulnerable groups on the labour market.

Measure 3: Promotion of social economy (SOP HRD, Axis 6, KIA 6.1 Development of social economy)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Promotion of social economy by creating and developing social economy enterprises, promotion and development of partnership between profit-oriented non-profit organisations vocational training, strengthening of competence in vulnerable individuals, promotion of the principle of accountability, involvement of communities in solving the problems of disfavoured groups, creation of permanent jobs and protected workshops for disfavoured persons on the labour market, etc.

Target group: rrhoma individuals, disabled persons, youths aged 18 and above who leave child-care institutions, early school leavers, drug and alcohol addicts, victims of family abuse, etc.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

European funds (ESF), national public funds, and contributions from private funds of the project beneficiaries.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Nu, but it includes the NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Yes. Rrhoma individuals, disabled persons, youths aged 18 and above who leave child-care institutions, early school leavers, drug and alcohol addicts, victims of family abuse, etc.

Employer incentives

2.2.9 Please provide an overview of your country’s approach to incentivising employers to recruit young people (who are NEET). Where does the focus of policies and measures to incentivise employers lie? Where possible, you should use only one word or Yes/No (e.g. how is the measure funded? answer: regional; is this measure a NEET specific measure? answer: Yes).

Act 76/2002 provides for support to employers who engage in the vocational training of their own employees, for the purpose of securing the position and avoiding redundancy risks.

The same Act affords loans at subsidised interest rate, and non-refundable finance for the creation of new jobs, and for the formation and expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises (students also qualify).

Similarly, employers receive direct incentives for the employment of fresh school and higher education graduates.

2.2.10 Please complete the table below with a brief description of up to three policies/ measures to incentivise employers in your country.

Table 7 - Access to employment: Employer incentives

Access to employment: Employer incentives

Name of measure

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Measure 1: Financial support to employers for the vocational training programmes afforded to their own employees (Act 76/2002)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Financial support to employers that bear the costs of vocational training of their own employees

General aim: to secure jobs and avoid redundancy risks.

Specific objectives: growth and diversification of vocational competence of employees. The law stipulates compensations of 50% of the expenses incurred for the training programmes devoted to employer’s own workers, and for maximum 20% of the employer’s personnel, every year.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National public funds, from the unemployment insurance budget

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a general purpose measure, applicable also to the NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

Measure 2: Accessory measures for youths who fail to find a job after graduation (Act 76/2002)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Free vocational information and counselling services are offered for evaluation and self-evaluation for vocational orientation purposes; for the development of abilities and self-confidence; training for job hunting; notification on the existing vacancies; mediation between job seekers and prospective employers; vocational training.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National public funds, from the unemployment insurance budget.

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

Specifically designed for NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

Measure 3: Non-refundable loans and funds for creation of new jobs through newly established small and medium enterprises, and through independent activities conducted by authorised self-employed persons (Act 76/2002)

Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Based on projects, and pro-rata to the number of new jobs created, loans are granted to entrepreneurs (including full-time students up to the age of 30 years), for a maximum period of 3 years, at an interest rate of 50% of the reference interest rate of the National Bank of Romania (Banca Naţională a României, BNR) (with the rate going as low as 25% for the counties where the unemployment rate is above the national average), subject, however, that minimum 60% of the newly created jobs should be assigned to duly recorded unemployed persons.

Subject to eligible feasibility studies, non-refundable funds may be also granted proportional to the number of jobs created, provided that all of the jobs so created are assigned to unemployed persons, and that employment is continuous for at least four years.

Both in the case of subsidised loans and that of non-refundable finance, the recipient’s own contributions must be at least 25% of the total worth of the project.

Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National public funds, from the unemployment insurance budget, and private funds of the recipients

Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a general purpose measures, but it is applicable also to the NEETs.

Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

No.

2.2.11 Please provide a more detailed description of the employer incentive which you think is the most effective measure in your country (this measure should be additional to those included in the table above). In addition to the questions raised in the table above, your description should include the details outlined below:

  • Description of the measure: aims and objectives

Incentive for the employment of school graduates (Act 76/2002)

Employers who hire, by open-ended employment contract, graduates of formal education are exempt, for a period of 12 months, from the payment of contributions to the unemployment insurance budget related to the hired graduates, and, during the same period, for each hired graduate, they receive: a) an amount equal to the value of the reference social indicator (in force at the date of employment) for the graduates of compulsory education (first ten forms – lower level of high school), and for the graduates of crafts and trades schools; b) an amount equal to 1.2 of the value of the reference social indicator for the graduates of the upper level of high school, or graduates of post-high school courses; c) an amount equal to 1.5 of the value of the reference social indicator in effect at the date of employment for the graduates of a higher education institution. If the graduate is also a disabled person, the incentive period is extended to 18 months.

The employers are legally bound to keep them in employment for at least 3 years. If employment is continued after the first three years, the employer is entitled, for the next two years, to a financial aid equal to the total amount of social insurance contributions owed for such an employee for those two years.

  • Scale of measure (i.e. national, regional or local)

National

  • Is the measure tripartite, bipartite or unilateral?

Unilateral

  • How is the measure funded (national state funding, European funding, private funding)?

National public funds, from the unemployment insurance fund

  • Is this a NEET-specific measure, or is it a more general measure which also has an impact on NEETs?

It is a NEETs specific measure.

  • Is the measure specifically targeted at young people from a disadvantaged background or a minority group?

Designed as a special scheme for disabled persons

  • When was it introduced and why? How long will it run for?

In 2002, under Act 76, regarding unemployment insurance, and incentives for employment

  • Is it a mainstream or pilot project?

The project is already implemented.

  • What is the scale of the initiative and how much funding has been allocated to it?

It addresses graduates who have failed to find employment. In 2009, for example, the funds earmarked from the unemployment insurance budget and transferred to employers was approximately EUR 10 million.

  • Who runs the initiative (is it a public, private or third sector initiative)?

MMFPS, through the public employment offices, and the National Agency for Employment (Agenţia Naţională pentru Ocuparea Forţei de Muncă, ANOFM)

  • What is the target group? How many young people benefit from it?

Young graduates in search of a job. In 2009, for example, the measure benefited 9,810 youths aged up to 25 years.

  • What activities are involved?

Subsidising jobs.

  • What are the success factors?

Financial incentives for employers, through subsidies for the jobs created

  • Is there any formal evidence of its success (both quantitative and qualitative)?

There is a relatively high number of employers who applied for such subsidies. This helped the employment of as many as 9,810 graduates in 2009 alone.

3. Conclusion

The economic restructuring that has been going on in the past two decades resulted in over 3.5 million redundancies among salaried workers.

The transition from school to active life has been characterised, therefore, by increasingly longer job-seeking periods for the young people graduating from secondary or tertiary education.

Employers explain the youths’ difficulty in finding jobs through their lack of practical experience, and through the inadequacy of their theoretical knowledge acquired in school to the demands of the labour market, on the one hand, and, on the other, through the lack of financial resources of both employers and candidates to cater for the need of gaining practical experience.

The interventions and the measures legislated by the Government, and enforced through the public employment agencies, although well-intended, have been limited in application due to the scarcity of the financial resources available from the unemployment insurance budget, and from the central budget (and here we mean especially the state aid for employment, and the public investment projects that generate employment).

In recent years, in addition to the unilateral initiatives of the Romanian Government, also noteworthy is the contribution of the SOP HRD, in respect of the magnitude of the financial support, of the intervention areas, and of the number of persons involved. SOP HRD is financed from the European Social Fund, and from national public and private funds.

Of critical importance now is the administrative capacity of companies, of the social partners’ organisations, and of the central and local public administration authorities to propose projects, and to carry them out, so that the funds made available to Romania by the European Commission are absorbed entirely.

Luminita Chivu, Laurentiu Georgescu, Institute of National Economy, Romanian Academy

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