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The main policy measures implemented at top-level to foster the access of young job-seekers to employment are offered by the Department of Labour of the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance and the Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus. They both offer various schemes to unemployed people of all ages who are facing particular barriers in finding and retaining jobs (low-skilled youth, social protection beneficiaries, unemployed at risk of long-term unemployment). Below is a list of available schemes offered:
- Provision of Incentives for the Employment of Unemployed Youth aged 15 up to 29 years old who are not in employment, education or training -NEETs (offered by the Department of Labour): The Scheme aims to alleviate youth unemployment (aged 15 to 29) years neither in Employment nor in Education or Training (NEETs) and the sustainable integration of young people in the labour market, by placing them in subsidized jobs and further gaining work experience. The total amount that will be allocated will be €10,000,000 and it runs between 23/10/20 until the exhaustion of the total budget or relevant announcement. The Scheme is included in the measures of active employment policy promoted by the Government for the implementation of the "Youth Guarantee".
- Provision of Incentives for the Employment of Unemployed (offered by the Department of Labour): The Scheme includes the sponsorship of a part of the salary cost of the person to be hired. This scheme runs between 23/11/20 until the depletion of the fund or the announcement of the end of the Plan.
- Provision of Incentives for the Employment of People with Disabilities (offered by the Department of Labour): The Scheme includes the sponsorship to employers in the private sector for the recruitment of unemployed persons with disabilities registered with the PES. The grant is 75% of the wage cost up to a maximum of € 20,000. This scheme runs between 6/7/2017 until the depletion of the fund or the announcement of the end of the Plan and its target is 100 beneficiaries. This scheme is under the Cypriot Operational Programme "Employment, Human Resources and Social Cohesion" for the implementation of the European Structural Funds in the period 2014-2020.
- Scheme for the Employment and Training of Tertiary Education Graduates (offered by HRDA): The scheme aims at strengthening the management capacity of enterprises and organisations through the employment and training of qualified tertiary education graduates under 30 years of age, while helping the smooth integration of graduates into suitable job positions. Young unemployed tertiary education graduates are offered a training subsidy while they receive on the job training for 6 months. The HRDA sets the minimum gross wage of €950 per month paid by the employer to the graduate during the programme. The subsidy is calculated on the basis of the eligible costs of the implemented training programme. The scheme runs until 2021.
- Scheme for the development of New Business activity (Σχέδιο Ενίσχυσης Νέας Επιχειρηματικής Δραστηριότητας) The Scheme was announced in May 2021 by the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry. It aims to develop, support and promote the entrepreneurship by focusing on specific target groups, such as young people and women who wish to do business in any economic activity, utilizing their knowledge, experience and talents. The scheme included a budget of 30 million euros. Young people aged 18-29 are among the eligible beneficiaries and are entitled up to 70% of funding.
The ‘ActiveYouth: Youth Guarantee to ACTIVate and Empower YOUTH in Cyprus: an integrated communications campaign’ was the main large-scale outreach strategy to disseminate information about job opportunities among young people in Cyprus. The main purpose of the programme was to raise awareness of the Youth Guarantee among young people as essential for reaching out to those not registered with their respective national Youth Guarantee systems, informing them that it is a pre-condition for them to contact relevant services and benefit from available offers. The project was carried out by the Youth Information Centres of the Youth Board of Cyprus. Active Youth’s website is useful for more permanent information.
There are currently no top-level policies or measures to enhance flexibility and security in the labour market.
The Department of Labour is responsible for the proper implementation and monitoring of the Equal Treatment of men and women in employment and vocational training. The implementation of the legislation and its improvement through the introduction of new laws, and the modification of the existing ones, aim at achieving equal treatment of men and women in the field of work. The recent amendment concerning the Protection of Maternity Law (116(I)/2017) to cover cases of surrogate maternity and the adoption of legislation on Paternity Protection (117(I)/2017) constitute measures and policies for the reconciliation of professional and family life.
Information about the funding of the schemes/initiatives described above (Youth employment measures):
- The budget of the scheme “Provision of Incentives for the Employment of Unemployed Youth aged between 15-29” is 10 million euros. The scheme is co-funded by the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Social Funds.
- The budget of the scheme “Provision of Incentives for the Employment of People with Disabilities” is €2 million euros. The scheme is financed by the European Social Funds and the Republic of Cyprus.
- The budget for the scheme “Scheme for the Employment and Training of Tertiary Education Graduates” comes from national funds. For the period 2017–2021, it is estimated that the annual HRDA Budget for the operation of the Plan will not exceed the amount of €8,000,000.
- The budget of the Scheme for the development of New Business activity is expected to reach 30 million euros.
The HRDA ensures the quality of the programmes it subsidises by undertaking controls in the programme approval stage, the programme implementation stage and the payment of subsidy stage. The HRDA also carries out evaluation studies on the effectiveness and impact of its activities. To this end, a comprehensive system evaluating the impact of HRDA on the economy of Cyprus has been set up. Within this system, evaluation studies, which include field and desk research, are conducted by either independent consultants or the HRDA.
In addition, many employment schemes include vocational training. Regarding this, the training programmes are implemented by public and private institutions and enterprises. To be approved they need to adhere to the criteria laid down by the HRDA.
An important development with regard to training providers is the introduction of a system for the assessment and certification of training providers. Through this system, which has been fully implemented as of 1 January 2015, vocational training centres, vocational training facilities and trainers are assessed against specific criteria to ensure that they are eligible for certification. For trainers, the criteria are based on their competence as well as their academic qualifications and their professional experience as trainers.
The HRDA also carries out evaluation studies on the effectiveness and impact of its activities. These evaluations are announced on a specific part of the HRDA’s website. In this context, the HRDA has prepared the study ‘Indicators of Participation in HRDA´s activities 2012-2018’ on a regular basis. The main objective of the study is the analysis of the participation in HRDA´s activities, for example, during 2012-2018, and specifically the number of enterprises which participated and received subsidies, the number of eligible enterprises which paid the Human Resource Development Levy, the subsidies provided to enterprises by the HRDA and the levy paid by enterprises.
It must be noted that the analysis includes those schemes for which enterprises receive a subsidy for the participation of their employees and does not include all the schemes from which they benefit, such as the schemes providing job placements for the unemployed for the acquisition of work experience. For those schemes, there are specific studies which will be mentioned later.
Some of the main indicators/criteria mentioned in the study ‘Indicators of Participation in HRDA´s activities’ are:
- The number of enterprises participating in the HRDA’s activities
- Percentage coverage indicator of enterprises benefiting from HRDA’s activities
- Coverage Indicators by Economic Sectors
- Coverage Indicators by Size of Enterprise
- Coverage Indicators by District
In addition, regarding evaluation studies conducted for the impact of the ‘scheme for job placement of unemployed young tertiary education graduates for the acquisition of work experience’, some indicators being mentioned are:
- Impact of the scheme on employability (both on broader public and private sector)
- Percentage of participants in the scheme who continue to work in the enterprise/ organisation of their placement
- The employment status of participants
- The degree of utilisation of knowledge and skills acquired
- The degree of improvement of employment prospects
- The satisfaction of participants in the scheme
Lastly, as stated in the HRDA’s evaluation studies, based on the level of contribution of each Scheme in alleviating youth unemployment, new calls of the schemes are announced.