Today, the Riigikogu deliberated the development of labour market as a matter of significant national importance. Reports were by Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee Heljo Pikhof, the Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur and Professor of macroeconomics at Tartu University Raul Eamets.
In Pikhof’s estimation, unemployment has become the most burning problem in our society at present. “Today, the number of registered unemployed people alone is approaching 50 000 and forecasts predict that the number of unemployed may reach 85 000 by the end of this year,” said Pikhof. The Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee noted that, among the 27 European Union countries, Estonia is the one who has laid the least emphasis on active labour market measures, that is, less than 0.1 per cent of GDP; on the average, the European Union countries are able to find ten times more funds for active labour market measures than Estonia. Pikhof put the question: “Have we got an active labour market policy in the first place?” Pikhof pointed to the sore spots and traps of labour policy and then outlined a vision of the challenges and possible measures in her report. In Pikhof’s opinion, social partners should also be actually involved in the development of labour policy, and preparing of a new employment programme for 2010-2011 and revision of the concept of labour market measures as well as amendment of the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act should be started shortly.
The Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur gave a detailed overview of the labour market situation as at today and the activities of the Ministry of Social Affairs in that connection. In Pevkur’s words, the Ministry of Social Affairs has enabled availability of important data, improved customer service, changed the trainings system and involved social partners in decision making; also, commencing of business is supported on a larger scale. Pevkur stressed that the Ministry of Social Affairs informs the public of the situation on a regular basis and, at the same time, is constantly observing the progress of the Labour Market Board in servicing customers. “As of 16 March, information about vacant positions is available to all people free of charge on the website of the Labour Market Board, and information about vacant positions at the employers who have given their consent thereto is also published for public use. The information will be updated weekly,” promised the Minister of Social Affairs. Pevkur added that the Ministry of Social Affairs is taking very responsibly the tasks assigned thereto in the search for solutions to the labour market situation.
Professor Raul Eamets presented his vision of the labour market problems of Estonia and the possible solutions to the Riigikogu. “If we look at the latest data concerning registered unemployed, then we can see that circa 40 per cent of the unemployed have vocational education background; this number includes the unemployed with professional higher education and technical secondary education background. The next larger group is general secondary education with 28.5 per cent, and other groups are notably smaller. We should look forwards with a longer perspective and ask what kind of education we are actually offering and what kind of education level we will need in the labour market in the future,” said Eamets. The Professor also explained that high spending on labour policy does not automatically mean low unemployment. As proposals for improving the situation of the labour market, Eamets suggested simplification and improved efficiency of the ordering of trainings, financing of community placement, creating an employment club for long-term unemployed, extension of the concept of risk group, preventive training, breaking down of institutional barriers and increasing the flexibility of the system.
Comments were presented by Members of the Riigikogu Taavi Rõivas, Mart Laar, Marika Tuus, Mai Treial, Marek Strandberg, Heljo Pikhof, Urmas Reinsalu, Aivar Riisalu, Ken-Marti Vaher, Eiki Nestor, Jürgen Ligi, Heimar Lenk and the Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur.
The Riigikogu passed with 75 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Ambient Air Protection Act
), initiated by the Government. The main objective of the Act is to provide the principles of the allocation of the national reserve of permitted greenhouse gas emissions. The reserve provided by the allocation plan for permitted greenhouse gas emissions is divided into the reserve for new entrants to the trading system and the joint implementation projects reserve. The amendment concerns the principles of the allocation of the reserve for new entrants to the trading system. The permitted greenhouse gas emissions of the national reserve will be allocated between new entrants to the trading system at one time for the whole trading period by years according to the extent of the national reserve. According to the approval of the European Commission, the average total permitted emission is 11 832 452 tons of carbon dioxide for Estonia on the basis of the allocation plan for permitted greenhouse gas emissions for installations for 2008–2012. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment will not approve the national reserve for new entrants to the trading system before the principles of allocation of the national reserve will have been provided by legislation and this is the purpose of this Act. Nobody voted against the Act, 5 members of the Riigikogu abstained.
See the verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):
The Riigikogu Press Service