Programme of support for the integration of youth into active life in Portugal
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Issue The proper placement of the youth on to an active life is one of the main priorities of the Portuguese government's employment policy, for it is in youth unemployment that lies one of the chief critical factors of the labour market.
    The professional placement of the youth was a "moment" in time, in the transition between the education/training system and the world of labour, and which was awaited with calm and tranquillity, having today turned into a "complex process". In the present situation, this process is marked by difficulties in what concerns access to active life due to a lack of experience and an all too often instability, with periods of training alternating with on-the-job training, precarious labour and unemployment.
    According to the figures supplied by INE (April 99) the unemployment rate currently stands in the region of 4.8%. Youth unemployment accounts for about 30% of the overall unemployment, with youth unemployment (15-24 years of age group) standing at 9.8%. This figure turns more complex and gives cause for concern when we realise that the school qualifications of the jobless youth are on an average higher than those of the youth holding a job. That is to say, in keeping with the figures supplied by IEFP (June 99) around 28.5% of the unemployed youth, in this age group, hold secondary school qualifications (9-12 years).
    Among the most relevant obstacles facing the youth that are seeking a job is a lack of experience and the mechanisms that can facilitate the transition from school to active life. From this standpoint, the National Employment Plan - Portugal and the European Strategy for Employment (1999), recommends a reinforcement of the active policies aimed at combating youth unemployment in the following aspects:
# To widen and improve the quality of qualifying training for the youth;
# To intensify the participation of the youth in programmes designed to bring them closer to professional engagement, notably through the attendance of professionalising training;
# To foster the contracting of the youth. (L.F. et al. 10/12/99)
The general unemployment rate of 4.8 per cent recorded in Portugal for April 1999 is not high in the European context. It may be higher than the number of available jobs  but does not yet raise very many questions. By contrast,  youth unemployment of 9.8 per cent is a sign of a degree of imbalance between the supply of and demand for labour  that usually calls forth attempts to correct the situation.
    The support policy and programmes undertaken in Portugal are made particularly justified by the information that the unemployed young people are better educated than their employed peers. This is surprising given that until now we have been accustomed to think that education improves employability. In Finland some 90 per cent of the 15- to 17-year-olds are at school; at 18 some 60 per cent have no vocational qualifications because they have attended general upper secondary school. Many of them would like to find work before they are 20. 
    Both in Portugal and Finland it may be asked whether an individualís employability might in practice involve also other things than competencies. Does education generate employability of the right kind? At the same time it is also possible to ask whether the labour market is offering educated young people the right type of jobs. Is there an universal, structural and irreparable conflict between young peopleís work qualifications and their environmentís readiness for employing young people? (K.R. 20/01/00 - transl. by Hannu)
Measure According to the National Employment Plan (1999), these policies to fight unemployment aim to attain the following objectives:
# To ensure a fresh opportunity for all the jobless youth before they complete six months of unemployment, in all the areas covered by the regional pacts and networks for employment, englobing 75% of mainland Portugal in 1999;
# To increase youth professional training by 10% in 1999 in relation to 1997, putting emphasis on training geared to employability;
# To reinforce the programmes of professional training with the view to reaching 15,000 training schemes.
    The Portuguese Government has been increasing polices to fight against unemployment, using developmental programs and projects, which consist in measures to diminish the social effects that result from the lack of jobs, and that concern both youths and workers in general.
    To this effect, the Education Ministry (ME) and the Labour and Solidarity Ministry (MTS), separately or in conjunction have created programmes and projects of action aimed at facilitating the professional placement of the youth in the world of labour. These programmes are development from the following existing tools: Programme for the Integration of Youth in Active Life (PIJVA); National Training Plan; System of support for the contracting of the youth who are first job seekers; Education-Training Courses.
    It is in this context that lies the field of involvement of the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP) of the Labour and Solidarity Ministry (MTS), in the application of the policies and support measures directed towards the placement of the youth in the labour market.
    Therefore, there are essentially two types of programs:
# Programs for Incitement to the creation of jobs: Incentive to make contracts; Local initiatives of employment; Schools workshops; Support self employment; Incentive to local development; Conservation of the patrimony;
# Programs for Acquisition of professional qualifications, and scholar progression toward a certification: Integration in the active life; Professional stages; Initial professional training; Initial qualification; Education and training; Integration of the youth in active life. (L.F. et al. 10/12/99)
In an attempt to secure every young person a new opening soon after they have become unemployed, the Portuguese Government has launched programmes intended to encourage job creation (...). At the same time the Government is endeavouring to improve young peopleís employability/qualifications through education (...). 
    The underlying idea seems to be that if a young person must be ready for work then their environment must be ready for offering them work. This is a very good idea that could also be applied to the qualitative dimension of work, the question of what kind of employees and what kind of jobs are mutually compatible. The idea could be also applied, at school, to evaluating the relationship between a pupilís or studentís learning goals and the supervision offered by their environment. The projects set up by the Portuguese Government and researchers reinforce such an approach.
    One starting point for assessing the mutual relation between a young personís employability and the labour marketís readiness for employing them might be the expectations of the employees, for example like this: the young person learning to work is highly employable if they have the ability, willingness and courage to combine theory and practice and collaboration skills and their own creativity, is capable of accepting the challenges that they may encounter and has enough stamina to pick themselves up after a possible failure. 
    Correspondingly, a school, training placement or job may be considered to promote employment effectively if it guides, motivates and encourages the learner to combine theory and practice and collaboration skills and creativity, if the learning/work tasks are organised suitably for the young personís age and qualifications, and if the young person is offered scope for independent action and encouraged to complete the studies and other tasks that they have undertaken.  (K.R. 20/01/00 - transl. by Hannu)
Impact The measures aim to catalyse the synergies between the processes of the acquisition of technical competencies and those of the development of the youth's personal, social and relationship capacities. The line of thinking here is to reinforce the transferable competencies that are facilitators to the exercise of professional activity based on the youth's development both as a professional and as citizen. These objectives are achieved through practical solutions depending on the needs and interests of the youth and fitted to the youths' own project of life, making full use of the existing conditions in order to deepen the capacities of self sufficiency, a spirit of enterprise, team work, communication, research and the handling of information, and the solving of problems.
    The application of these measures, developed by IEFP or by entities accredited by IEFP, is of particular importance to those who do not possess the minimum academic qualifications and do not have any professional qualification. Thus, there are two types of programmes.
     It is necessary further studies about the real impact of the measures implemented. (L.F. et al. 10/12/99)
The measures implemented in Portugal support the view that the relation between an young personís employability and their environmentís readiness for giving them employment is a fruitful starting point for development work undertaken by employment and educational authorities, educational establishments and researchers. It is in such a situation that the labour market, training enterprises and schools can with clear conscience present their wishes concerning the kind of students, trainees and employees that they would like to have. At the same time young people have the right to ask whether there are enough student places, trainee placements and jobs suitable for them. It would be strange if such a dialogue would not clarify planning and decision-making processes and, indirectly, promote a better fit between the labour force and the available jobs.   (K.R. 20/01/00 - transl. by Hannu)
Reference The extended version of this review by Frazao et al. 1999a, with detailed references, is included in the Finnbase. Also available online is the related Portuguese contribution to the survey on dually-oriented qualifications.  Major documents (in Portuguese) are the following: a guidebook about the measures to help unemployed people that want a placement in active life (Comissao 1998a); a policy document oriented to qualification for young people unemployment (IEFP 1999a) and a global policy document about Portugal within European Community to support employment (Plano 1999a). (L.F. et al. 10/12/99 - S.M. ed.)  
Author Lourenço Frazão, Teresa Oliveira & Fátima Santos Kauko Roycola

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