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Community initiative on employment and development of human resources, 1994-1999

The EMPLOYMENT initiative is based on an integrated approach, drawing together various measures which are targeted at groups who face specific difficulties in the labour market. The initiative consists of four strands focused on the needs of women (building on the success of the NOW programme), disabled and disadvantaged people (building on the success of the HORIZON programme), the young unemployed (which will support the introduction of a Community-wide YOUTHSTART programme along the lines of that proposed in Chapter 8 of the Commission White Paper on Growth, Employment and Competitiveness) and an action to promote measures to improve access to the labour market and employability of vulnerable groups (INTEGRA).

The INTEGRA strand, which covers the period 1996-1999, was established by the Commission following its meeting of 8 May 1996. An amended set of guidelines covering the entire EMPLOYMENT initiative were subsequently published (Official Journal No C 200 of 10.7.1996).

The activities pursued under the EMPLOYMENT initiative will both compliment and supplement the measures taken by the Member States themselves and other activities supported by the European Social Fund. It is intended to serve as a catalyst for Community-wide innovation as well as for the organized transfer of expertise and the dissemination of good practice between Member States. In order to achieve a high added value for the Community, the activities sponsored by EMPLOYMENT should demonstrate an overall transnational dimension, be innovative, be based on a "bottom-up" approach, and contribute to the reinforcement of other Community policies and programmes.

Across the four strands, the following broad categories of actions are to be pursued:

- Systems measures aimed at initiating and supporting changes in the way training activities, employment services and the promotion of job creation are organized;

- Training measures covering the delivery and content of training, guidance, placement and counselling services that are being introduced or developed as part of an overall strategy for change in the operation of the labour market;

- Job creation measures which focus on innovative ways to develop new enterprises, to expand the job opportunities available and the more effective deployment of employment aids. Particular emphasis is given to expanding sectors where new employment opportunities are most likely to arise, and to new approaches to the organization of work as referred to in the Commission White Paper;

- Information/communication measures concerned with the dissemination of information through out the labour market to heighten awareness of the need for change and to encourage the acceptance of new initiatives and new practices.

An emphasis an transnational cooperation is placed on all the activities eligible under the EMPLOYMENT initiative.
To contribute to the development of human resources and to improve the workings of the labour market with a view to enhancing employment growth, to promoting social solidarity in the European Union and to promoting equal opportunities for women on the labour market.
Four strands:

- "Employment -NOW" (equal opportunities for women):
This strand aims to help reduce unemployment among women and to improve the position of those already in the workforce, through the promotion of equal opportunities. A strong emphasis is placed on the transnational dimension. Eligible measures include:
. Development of appropriate training guidance, counselling and employment systems;
. Training (particular attention is given to new job requirements, new qualifications and skills, notably in the area of RTD and innovative technologies);
. Job creation and support for the start up of small businesses and cooperatives by women;
. Information dissemination and awareness actions;

- "Employment - HORIZON" (improving the employment prospects of the disabled and other disadvantaged groups):
This strand aims to promote, with an important emphasis on transnational cooperation, measures to improve access to the labour market for disabled and disadvantaged people (ethnic minorities, migrants, refugees etc.) who find themselves excluded from it or those who risk being excluded. Priority under this strand is given to actions in favour of disabled people. The following measures are eligible for assistance:
. Development of appropriate training guidance, counselling and employment systems;
. Training (particular attention is given to new job requirements, new qualifications and skills, notably in the area of RTD and innovative technologies);
. Job creation and support for the start up of enterprises, cooperatives and public-private partnerships;
. Information dissemination and awareness actions;

- "Employment - YOUTHSTART" (promoting labour market integration of young people):
This strand is aimed at preventing youth unemployment, especially of those without basic qualifications who face the risk of life-long unemployment. In order to respond more effectively to the problems facing these people, this strand will help to promote access to work or to a recognized form of education or training to all young people under the age of 20. An emphasis is placed on transnational cooperation. Areas eligible for assistance include:
. Development of appropriate training guidance, counselling and employment systems, in the public and private sectors as appropriate. This measure will complement other related actions of the European Social Fund (ESF) and those to be supported under the proposed LEONARDO DA VINCI programme on vocational training;
. Provision of training and placements, mainly by building on pilot actions and experience gained in related Community programmes, especially the proposed LEONARDO DA VINCI programme;
. Assisting job creation;
. Information dissemination and awareness actions;

- Employment - INTEGRA (improving access to the labour market and employability of vulnerable groups):
Measures under this strand are aimed vulnerable groups who are at a severe disadvantage on the labour market due to lack of education, training or sufficient work experience and who require substantial support for their effective social and economic integration or reintegration. Four broad categories of measures are supported:
. Development of models, in particular on transnational basis, for improving the accessibility and quality in the provision in the full range of public services for vulnerable groups and disadvantaged people and for developing grassroot capacities and Community-based approaches to promoting the empowerment and full inclusion of these target groups;
. Delivery, in particular through transnational cooperation, of training;
. Job creation and support, particularly on a transnational basis, for the start-up of enterprises, cooperatives and public-private partnerships;
. Information dissemination and awareness actions.
The actions covered by the EMPLOYMENT initiative are to be jointly financed by the Member States, the Community and by enterprises and other bodies where appropriate. Where employees of companies take part in the various operations covered by the initiative, the enterprise concerned will finance an appropriate part of their participation costs.

The initiative is applicable to the whole territory of the Union, although particular emphasis will be placed on the needs of the less favoured regions. A number of measures will therefore only apply to priority regions (Objectives 1, 2, 5b and 6).

The Member States are invited to present proposals for support under the initiative in the form of operational programmes or global grants. In accordance with the rules covering the Structural Funds, these proposals must include a general appreciation of the situation indicating the objectives to be attained and should include a timetable, criteria and procedures for implementation, monitoring and assessment. The proposals submitted by the Member States are approved by the Commission.

Community assistance to selected proposals is in the form of subsidies funded from a budget of ECU 1,835 million, of which ECU 0.9 billion is reserved for Objective 1 and 6 regions. The budget is divided between the four strands as follows: "Employment-NOW" ECU 496 million; "Employment-HORIZON" ECU 513 million; "Employment-YOUTHSTART" ECU 441 million; "Employment-INTEGRA" ECU 385 million.

The distribution of the resources between the Member States under the initiative is based on the relative severity of structural problems, including in particular relevant unemployment levels, as well as the quality of the proposals submitted for operational programmes and global grants. To encourage transnational operational programmes, two or more Member States may, on their own initiative or on the initiative of the Commission, present a single application for financial assistance.

Technical assistance will be available at the initiative of the Member States, or of the Commission, and will provide support during both the preparation of proposals and the subsequent implementation stage. Technical assistance may include the dissemination of information and other awareness actions, the provision of consultancy and expert services, the creation or development of Community-wide networks to facilitate innovation and transnational cooperation, the development and sharing of databases on training and employment services and other aspects of labour market organization, etc.

Responsibility for implementing the initiative is entrusted to a single Monitoring Committee in each Member State. During and at the end of the planning period, the Commission shall evaluate, in partnership with the Member States, the results of the programmes submitted. The Commission will use the targets specified by the Member States in their proposals as the main benchmark against which progress is to be assessed. The European Parliament, the Management Committee on the Community initiatives and the national Monitoring Committees shall be fully informed of the results of these evaluations and the action taken in response to them.