Labor minister blames pressure, operational framework for failed distant training program


Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Thursday responded to accusations of incompetency by opposition parties over a series of problematic distance training voucher programs for scientists and self-employed professionals which were scrapped on Wednesday amid widespread criticism that they were makeshift and of low quality.

“We are not infallible. You can obviously change your decisions, you can say I made a mistake and I am changing it, in such an emergency environment,” he told lawmakers in Parliament, where he answered questions tabled by main opposition SYRIZA.

Vroutsis blamed the pressure to make quick decisions amid the epidemic and the shortcomings of the institutional framework on the operation of the vocational training centres which he said were formed by the previous SYRIZA administration.

“We saw in time that the quality of the programs was not what we wanted and we had the courage to say that…it is withdrawn. This is called political honesty,” he said.

The program, which was drafted to offset the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on six scientific disciplines, aimed not only to supplement the incomes of beneficiaries with 600 euros but also to upgrade their digital skills, according to the minister.

It aimed to provide support to 166,000 scientists from six disciplines: lawyers, doctors, engineers/architects, economists/accountants, educators and researchers.

Beneficiaries will now receive the 600 euros directly for the month of April.