By Peter Stevenson
THE government on Tuesday unveiled a programme worth over €40 million aimed at finding work for 7,500 people.
The schemes’ budget will be 95 per cent funded by the European Social Fund, with the only exception the emergency plan for training hotel staff, which is funded by the unemployment fund.
“The fight against unemployment is difficult and is taking place during an unprecedented period for our country but we will not be discouraged,” Labour minister Zeta Emilianidou said.
Emilianidou said a lot depends on what will be achieved through implementing real recovery terms to stabilise unemployment and reverse the current course the economy is taking.
“During this difficult situation it falls on us at the Labour Ministry to assume responsibility in the efforts to create subsidised jobs. I ask for everyone’s help, especially the media, to achieve our goals,” she said.
The Labour Minister added that a total of 7,500 people have the chance to find a job again and it is important to disclose to potential beneficiaries the procedures for participation in the project and to understand the terms.
Emilianidou asked that all the relevant bodies that fall under the Labour Ministry’s control to implement the scheme, show effectiveness in carrying out the administrative work and to ensure the maximum benefit to participants who are now unemployed.
Emilianidou explained that the six new schemes have specific goals.
“Very briefly, we will subsidise employment, support youth participation in the labour market, we will offer opportunities to small businesses and give opportunities in tourism and retail,” she said.
The Labour Minister added that in a few days three new schemes will be announced, with two of those aiming to help those with low pensions and the third opening up a new chapter on social economy.
Two of the six schemes announced include employing 5,000 young people, Emilianidou said. One will involve employing 2,500 university graduates for six months and the second will involve employing 2,500 high-school graduates.
“We are addressing two groups of young people who have been exposed to the consequences of the crisis – both degree holders and non-degree holders – who we need to find jobs for so they are not get stuck on the periphery,” she said.
During these difficult times, Emilianidou said, the government is giving the new generation of Cypriots the chance to get professional experience.
“When you give a chance to young people, you give the whole country a chance,” she said.
Unemployment in Cyprus has been trending upwards for the last two years, exceeding 17 per cent with 72,660 individuals out of a job at the end of 2013, up from roughly 14 per cent at the end of 2012 and 10 per cent at the end of 2011. Long-term unemployment has also been spiking up to 6.4 per cent at the end of 2013, up from 2.2 per cent in January 2012.