The Croatian Employers Association (HUP) does not support the cancellation or suspension of active employment measures such as on-the-job training for young people, HUP said on Tuesday.

The Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) said last Friday that it was suspending the part of an active employment scheme for this year that was financed from the state budget, and that it would stop accepting and granting requests for employment subsidies and for self-employment, as well as for a scheme under which young people are enabled to undergo on-the-job training without being hired.

The HZZ said that considering the available funds in the state budget, beneficiaries of some of those measures would be referred to seek funding from EU funds in line with agreements signed for seven projects within the Operational Programme Efficient Human Resources 2014-2020.

HUP said that on-the-job training had proven to be a very useful measure for the private sector as a corrective mechanism for the education system, which it said did not ensure sufficient practical knowledge and most newly-graduated students could not start working right away because they lacked practical experience.

"Even though not all, a large number of young people who were taken by the private sector to undergo on-the-job training have remained in that sector," HUP says in a statement.

HUP director Davor Majetic said the measure should not be cancelled but rather adjusted and retained in the private sector, where he said "it has very much justified its existence."

Majetic said that more than 50% of young people taken for on-the-job training by private employers were later given employment contracts.

He also criticised the HZZ for suspending the scheme without any consultation with the social partners.

"We consider as bad practice the cancellation of measures that have yielded good results, while some other measures that are reportedly intended to replace them have not actually been prepared. Lack of money seems to be the real reason," said Majetic. 

The HZZ's decision was yesterday also criticised by Social Democrat Mirando Mrsic, who served as Labour and Pension System Minister in the previous, SDP-led government.

Mrsic said that since the introduction of the on-the-job training scheme in 2011, more than 37,000 young people had been covered by that measure and that more than 60% of them got work contracts after completing the year-long on-the-job training.

The HZZ said today that none of the measures in the programme for active employment policy was being cancelled nor would their temporary suspension bring them into question, however, some measures would be redefined to ensure more efficient spending of funds, particularly with regard to the most vulnerable categories of job-seekers.

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