Hannelore Coen (Flickr.com - CC BY 2.0)

Mandatory community work for long-term unemployed

Starting 2023 people who have been without a job for two years or more will have to do mandatory community work in their municipality.

70,000 Flemings have been jobless for longer than two years. In future municipalities will be able to deploy them to help out at events, in vaccination centres, at the parks department or in schools.  Flemish labour minister Crevits (Christian democrat) is implementing one of the provisions of the coalition agreement.

“People who have been jobless for two years and more lose a number of the skills needed in a job like social skills, how to conduct myself at work.  We want to address this by getting people to do community work.  In this way they stay educated in social skills and retain social contacts.  The work must strengthen skills.  I hope this answers the criticism of people who don’t like the idea” Crevits told VRT.

Municipalities will work together with the Flemish employment agency VDAB to see how the long-term unemployed can be deployed for up to 64 hours a month.  The unemployed receive a 1.30-euro bonus per hour of work. 

The length of time people can spend doing community work will be limited in time.  Ms Crevits wants to avoid people nestling themselves in the system: “We also want to prevent people who have been unemployed for over two years becoming inactive and an even greater distance to the labour market being created”.

Socialist trades unionist Caroline Copers is unhappy with the move.  She points to its mandatory character and the fact many vulnerable people are long-term unemployed and need considerable support.

Ms Copers believes employers, who often complain about labour shortages are well placed to help the long-term unemployed.

“There is a lot of scientific research that shows work experience programmes like this don’t accomplish a lot.  The long-term unemployed should at least be given the prospect of a high-quality job at the end of the programme”.   

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