ECONOMY

Jobs agency in urgent need of reform

Jobs agency in urgent need of reform

One reform that the government considers long overdue concerns the labor employment agency OAED.

There is enough evidence that the agency is simply not doing its job of monitoring the registered jobless’ efforts to gain employment and that the registry of the unemployed is a convenient tool for some to enjoy some benefits long after direct income support expires.

OAED is perhaps unique among similar European state agencies in not having regular contacts with those included in its registry. In other countries, they not only have to declare they are actively seeking jobs but must prove it, providing evidence that they attend seminars, send out CVs and, in general, keeping in touch with employment agencies’ officials.

Just over 1.1 million are registered as unemployed with OAED. Strangely, the number has stayed fairly constant since 2013, when unemployment spiked to its highest level (27.5%) in the depths of Greece’s financial crisis. In November 2021, with the jobless rate at 13.4%, the registered unemployed had not changed by much.

Almost 580,000 people, 52.7% of the total in the registry, have been there for at least a year; of those, 54% have been for over three years and 9% for over a decade.

Officials believe that quite a few have other sources of income, such as rent or work in the black market, and take advantage of benefits other than direct income support, such as heavy discounts or total exoneration on property taxes, favorable debt rescheduling, cheap electricity, free transport and others. Such free-riding could also partly explain why, with so many unemployed, businesses report difficulties in filling available jobs.