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The effectiveness of labour market oriented training for the long-term unemployed
Concept Trends Findings Practice Challenge
Synopsis Effectiveness research into vocational training, as performed here, is still rather underdeveloped. In addition to their urge for further research into the causes of disadvantages on the labour market, with special reference to the accessibility of labour market programmes for particular target groups, Nicaise and Bollens (1998) point out that the question ‘why’ something is effective has been little addressed and needs specific attention. From a policy point of view this is an important question if not the most important question. It at the same time often is one of the more difficult questions to answer.  (Brandsma 1999, p. 22).

The following issues for further research about the effectiveness of labour market oriented training for the long-term unemployed are raised:

(1) The 'creaming' or selection at enrolment
Selectivity does enhance bot the output and the outcome. More selective training organisations seem to have less dropouts and more trainees getting into a job. Togehter with the earlier addressed issue of accessibility, this raises the question of what ahppens to those unemployed that are not admitted to the course. What are their chances on getting training and/or finding employment? 

(2) Training for the least qualified
Which training is needed to bring back the least qualified up to the level of skills with which they stand a chance on the labour market? In order to be able to answer such a question, first a basic understanding is needed of the size and structure of the group of least qualified. In this respect it does seem to make a difference whether it concerns those unemployed due to major econmic restructuring (decline in particular economic sectors), due to obsoleteness of skills or due to an overall lack of education and training (or insufficient quality of the education and training received). Such differentiations could be helpful, if not important, in setting out training strategies and designing particular training programmes. 

(3) Tailor made design of training programmes
Tailor made design is not necessarily individualised training. As can be concluded from this study, individualised training is not by definition the best way to choose. Apparently the social aspect of training can be important as well. Tailor made in this respect means tailored towards the needs and characteristics of different types of unemployed. Or in other words, different training models for different target groups. However, given the present state of the art in our knowledge what might work and what might not, it might need quite some ‘experimentation’ to find out which design is most suitable for a particular target group.

(4) The macro effects of training
At the micro level of the individual unemployed, training does seem to pay of. The question however is, what does the economy or society benefit from the investments in this training? Overall it is presumed that investment in training from an economic point of view is a good investment. Many policy documents link economic competitiveness and training to each other. The question is whether and to what extent such a link can be made for training of unemployed as well. Of course one can presume that if training gets unemployed back into work this will save on benefits. But from a policy point of view it would be logical to try to measure the size of such effects as well as effects in terms of possible changes in productivity, economic growth or the general health situation (Brandsma 1999, pp. 28f.). 

Reference The background of the issues outlined above can be followed up in the final project report (Brandsma 1999). 
See also project info on UNEMPLOYED.
Descriptors D-CVT  EP02          E10d
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