Work capacity reform, the new coalition’s initial bone of contention, should not be rushed with. The practical aspects ought to be thoroughly considered. Let’s not forget, also, that regionally the conditions for getting to work – public transport, jobs on offer, willingness and ability of local governments – greatly vary. Overlooking such small yet vital details, the reform cannot be of expected benefit.
At the moment, the coalition is disputing the start time. Reform Party wants it to kick in on July 1st, 2015; soc dems would rather take it easier and wait six month longer.
The reform’s initial aim would be having up to 15,000 persons with partial working capacity on labour market during its opening years. At the moment, only a third has a job out of the 100,000 with partial working capacity. Good and right. However, for it to work, a vision on paper is not enough. For partial capacity people, lots of problems. With no solution found before the reform gets underway, it won’t be much good.
Soc dems think three issues are priority. Firstly: how do the low capacity people get to distant jobs, away from home. Clearly, it can’t be cast on local governments alone, as their options and willingness vary.
Secondly, a system needs to be developed to get low capacity youth, freshly out of vocational schools, into the working life – lest they lose interest while sitting at home.
And, thirdly: how to make working really possible for the disabled who are willing. The main issue, perhaps. Counselling and help with transportation might be the best, but what’s the use if there are no jobs nearby, or if entrepreneurs do not want to bother. Currently, an initiative is in the works to prepare them jobs in the public sector...
The economist Maris Lauri, serving as advisor to Prime Minister, pointed to an important aspect in her private blog: with large scale change, longer perspective is needed – a couple of years’ view is not enough. While interest groups have doubts, these need to be talked through. Otherwise, matters may get worse. That’s one priceless piece of advice.