State Secretary Branislav Ondruš explains why long-term unemployment is an issue in several Slovakian regions and how the government is taking action to allow more people to enter the labour market:
“One of the problems of people who are officially, ‘long term unemployed’ but not ‘long-term not working’, are debts, personal debts of these people. So, we’ve analyzed this problem last year and we prepared with the Ministry of Justice a new amendment to the act of bankruptcy to change, to make easier the process of so called ‘personal bankruptcy’. Because we see that many people, and I’m now speaking about thousands and maybe ten of thousands of people in Slovakia, simply refuse official, legal employment because of personal debts. When we help them to solve this problem, we’ll solve the main barrier of these people entering into the official labour market.
Another problem is the education, qualification or skills of these people and it’s a problem which is not unique in Slovakia. It’s very deeply connected with the education system, especially formal education in Slovakia. We see that the structure of unemployed people, according to education, unfortunately is not very different among different age groups. The problem is that more than half of unemployed people in Slovakia are graduates of vocational schools. It’s not a heritage of the past, because it’s natural, if you take into consideration technological changes, that some of those who are aged over 50, with their education 25-30 years old, have a problem fulfilling requirements for modern skills. But unfortunately we see that the same structure among young unemployed people and it shows that the structure of vocational education in Slovakia, and the quality of vocational education in Slovakia, is not reaching requirements of employers and the labour market”.