Publicly Subsidized Employment and Assistance By Social Workers. Last Resort for Long-Term Unemployed without Realistic Chances of Labor Market Integration?

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
105 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Frank Bauer, IAB, Nürnberg, Germany
Although the German labor market is famous for establishing a series of records concerning the rise of employment and the decline of unemployed since the paradigmatic change in 2005 a very serious problem seems to remain unsolved: the petrification of long-term unemployment. Long-term unemployment did not decline as strong as shorter unemployment did and moreover the figures show that since 2012 it is not sinking anymore and in some regions started rising again. Long-term unemployed obviously do not participate in the employment chances which are there for other participants in the labor market. Thus, a petrification takes place.

Since 2007, as the problem became obvious numerous attempts to minimize it through publicly subsidized employment have been started, but never lasted because of several reasons, mostly because of fiscal problems. In 2011/2012 a  reform of labor market instruments has been launched, which resulted in a cut back of costs and cases in labor market policies for long-term unemployed. Not only has the overall number of labor market instruments in the realm of the second book of the social code almost been bisected, moreover the reduction of expenses for publicly subsidized employment has been disproportionally high. Before the reform it amounted to 2,4%, thereafter it only had a share of 1,5% of the strongly reduced total.

Before this general background there have been some regional attempts to shape models of publicly subsidized employment, which solve some of the problems that occurred before. We have undertaken a comprising evaluation of 26 of these models between 2013 and 2015 and concentrated on two dimensions, utilizing a mixed method design: One focus was put on the question: In how far and how can social workers´ assistance help to stabilize the employment over time and what role play organizational differences in the implementation process? A second key aspect of our research was: Does the employment help to constitute a feeling of social participation and reduce the impression of uselessness and exclusion often shared among long-term unemployed? What are further significant effects of participation in the treatment? The first focal point is mostly addressed in a „qualitative perpective“, while the latter is based on different surveys executed during the evaluation.

The paper includes both perspectives, shows the problems social workers have to deal with within the framework of in-plant operations and how they solve them under different organizational conditions. Furthermore it analyses treatment effects concerning social participation, personal stabilization and employability. It concludes with lessons that could be learned from the combination of individual case work and labor market policy for special treatment groups.