Changes In The Lithuanian Labour Market
Not so long ago, Lithuania had a planned economy. The country’s industries and agriculture were part of the complex mechanism of the Soviet Union, where enterprises did not have to deal with the problems of goods production or worry about raw materials – everything was supplied centrally. Unemployment did not exist, because as soon as a person gained an educational qualification, he or she was guaranteed to get a job whether or not there was a demand for that particular type of professionals. After the re-establishment of an independent Lithuanian Republic, the situation changed dramatically. The transition from planned to market economy began and privatisation took place.
Legalisation of private property created new forms of business organisation: individual enterprises, partnership enterprises (UAB), joint-stock companies, investment joint-stock companies. All these changes resulted in the formation of a labour market which was absent in the Soviet period because of the peculiarities of the socialist system of job distribution. Labour supply was inconsistent with labour demand.
The structure of Lithuanian labour market could be described as follows:
• People who are officially registered as unemployed and receive unemployment benefits
• Unofficial unemployment (a short work time, compulsory holidays, never registered in labour exchange.)
• Unofficial labour market. Black labour market
• Firms which do not pay taxes and social insurance
• Officially employed
Labour market training centres (LMTC) in Lithuania help the unemployed to find their place in the labour market. Training curricula are being matched to the employers’ requirements for skilled workers. During the training process the participants are encouraged to take responsibility for their lives, they are offered a chance to acquire work experience, to change profession, to get professional advice, etc. Since the demand for labour in different fields is constantly changing, only a limited number of job-seekers can find employment without choosing a new profession or refreshing their skills.
Systematic labour market vocational training is a rather new phenomenon in Lithuania, and the requirements are increasing as a result of structural changes in the Lithuanian society. The process of adult training has its specific demands for instructors and teachers of general subjects, as they are not merely conveyors of knowledge, but also representatives of working life: they represent the world into which trainees will return or enter. When working with adults, special attention is to be paid to ensuring the trainees’ motivation and encouraging them to take responsibility for the results of their work. Therefore, the instructor’s style of work needs to be changed: he must become organiser and supporter of the training process. On the other hand, instructors must also be highly skilled practicians who are able to personally demonstrate every operation.
Adapting training processesto the needs of the labour market, i.e. of employers and employees, requires creativity of all the participants involved in the training process. First results indicate that a systematic approach should be applied to controlling this process, i.e. all levels need to undergo restructuring simultaneously. If the institutionalisation of issues relating to the training of unemployed people and job-seekers has started, tremendous groups of people practically remain not involved in training as a process of social regulation.
Vocational training helps to solve this contradiction by providing the opportunity to acquire necessary professional qualifications in a short period of time. In order to help people re-gain control of their lives instead of “breaking down” or getting caught in the trap of unemployment, the State guarantees everyone the right to make use of the services of the Lithuanian Labour Market Training Authority.
Services for allThe administrative structure of the Authority and the territorial distribution of its branches secure the provision of efficient services throughout the country. The Lithuanian Labour Market Training and Counselling System consists of the Lithuanian Labour Market Training Authority, seven territorial labour market training and counselling offices subordinate to the Authority. Vilnius labour market training and counselling centre is a member of the Lithuanian Association of Adult Education (LAAE).
Their services are available for use by adults – employers, job-seekers and unemployed persons, employed persons, students and their parents, teachers, and anyone concerned with their own personal value, professional options, acquisition, modification, and improvement, or with questions regarding development of their work and employment skills.
You can find more information at www.ldrmt.lt
Matching the experience and abilitiesMany Lithuanians are learning new jobs and new skills in the non-formal adult educational system through the LAAE project “Competence Recognition – for the Development of Opportunities in Matching Career with Family”. This project aims to match the experience and abilities of people who are unemployed due to family or other reasons with real opportunities in labour market.
Social and professional experience gathered throughout a person’s lifetime is an important resource which is practically neglected in Lithuania. In order to acquire a new job and income many people learn new skills that are not suited to their abilities and inclinations. Consequently, these new skills are not applied and de-motivation results.
The project is supported by the European Community initiative EQUAL. The project aims to uncover the real potential, experience and skills of people who due to family or other reasons have had to take up certain professions. The goal of the project is to establish a Development Community which, by using the common interests, resources, information and skills, could an innovation project in the Moletai region of evaluating the competence and the chances of people and using them in the labour market.
• The development of the quality and flexibility of work at home.
• The change of public point of view to the recognition of experience abilities and adaptation in labour market.
The main organiser of the project is the public institution Skudutiðkio Akademija. The Lithuanian Adult Education Association is participating as a partner responsible for coordinating the transnational cooperation. It prepares the technique for evaluating the competences and the programs for training andragogues-consultants. Another partner is the municipal authority of the Molëtai region.
Experimental micro-pilot projects in the social care fieldThe Transnational Partnership in this project will launch experimental micro-pilot projects on tailored services in the social care field. This will be done by training new professional workers and volunteers, by the implementation of new methodologies, training programmes and tools, promoting integration between public and social private operators, and using a flexible learning approach. We have transnational partners in Southern Europe (three different regions in Southern Italy), Northern Europe, West (France) and East (Slovakia and Lithuania) in areas which have similar social problems. Most of the work will be done through the Virtual Community but some study visits are planned for exploring social and economic realities in Lithuania, Slovakia, Italy and France. All the partners will be involved in all of the transnational work at some level, from active participation or leadership to learning from other partners’ experience. Each DP will also undertake to keep the other DPs and their national partners informed of the progress of their projects.
More information is available at www.equal.lt
by Dalia Cymbaliuk, lssavilnius(ät)takas.lt, photos by Raivo Juurak