Training unemployed not so simple a task
The social welfare system would once have been seen as a way of keeping people above a minimum level of poverty. Recently, another function has grown in importance -- helping the unemployed back into jobs.
The objectives do not fit together easily. There is a particularly painful clash if the income available from social welfare makes it financially unattractive to take a job. Arguments rage about whether this is the case and to what extent.
But the welfare system is being asked to do more than match benefits against realistic wages. In conjunction with other government departments, it is being asked to train and educate the unemployed to fit them better to available jobs and take special measures to prevent the long-term unemployed becoming detached from the world of work. Yesterday's report from the social partners' think tank, the National Economic and Social Council, illustrates how awkward it is to meet this dual mandate, but also the importance of getting it right -- or at least doing better than before.