In 2019, the federal government launched a new attempt to help those left behind to work. Anyone who hires someone who has typically received Hartz IV for six years or more will first be reimbursed for their full salary and social security contributions. A new study has just confirmed the success. But some things need to be changed.
Those who have been unemployed for a long time because they may have been ill, addicted to drugs, had psychological problems or could not find care for their children, often have little prospect of employment. An aid program in force for two and a half years changes something that has been called the “Participation Opportunities Act” in the social spokesperson, always polysyllabic. In May, it promoted more than 40,000 jobs through wage subsidies. This means that it only reaches a maximum of eight percent of the unemployed eligible for funding. This is shown by an unpublished study by the Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB), which is available to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Before the start of the project, the Federal Employment Agency had estimated the number of citizens who could be promoted between half a million and almost a million. On the other hand, the 40,000 paler a little. “There is still room for improvement here,” says Anja Piel, member of the DGB board. “The program is too small. The jobs supported should be expanded in order to open up new opportunities for more people who do not have access to the labor market.
Basically, Piel is full of praise for the program of Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD). “It is a very good approach to offer publicly funded work to citizens who otherwise have little luck in the job market. Two in three of those funded overcome the Hartz IV relationship in this way.”
The Employment Research Institute (IAB), the scientific arm of the employment agency, also released a positive report in the spring. Heil reaches the right target groups, the long-term unemployed mostly without professional qualifications, who are often older. The program is innovative and enriching for integration into the labor market. And supportive coaching helps stabilize employment and daily life.
Employers are reimbursed for their wages for two years. And only let the projects last that long
However, the DGB study still finds some shortcomings. The promise of funding over five years is rarely kept. More than half of the funded jobs are therefore limited to a maximum of two years, that is to say exactly the period during which the employer receives 100% of the reimbursed salary.
These are partly windfall effects. Companies fire someone as soon as they no longer perceive the full cost. In the case of employers oriented towards the common good, it is different, according to the DGB. Often they couldn’t help fund salaries from the third year onwards, as they offer socially meaningful services that would bring in virtually no income.
Trade unionist Piel therefore calls for these employers to be promoted more publicly so that the unemployed can work longer for them. “A longer period gives the long-term unemployed enough time to experience positive developmental milestones,” Piel says – and calls for subsidies to be given only to jobs that have existed for at least four years.
The DGB study is also concerned that only 40 percent of jobs are held by women. They represent half of all possible candidates. And while more than a third of Hartz IV employable beneficiaries come from an immigrant background, they only represent a good tenth of the jobs supported. Piel wants to change both: “Employment agencies should target women and the unemployed with a migrant background more.