The controversial nature of workfare programmes

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According to the OECD, active employment policies include all social expenditure that are directed at improving the chances of finding a job and income generation (except education). Active labour market policies are around to assist in enhancing labour market flexibility at the times of economic changes. Their key components are the so-called activation strategies that act as typical prerequisites of benefitting from unemployment security/support systems in every EU country. The workfare concept lies behind the public work programmes. There are serious professional debates whether public work can primarily be seen as a ’compulsion and work test’ or, rather, as an opportunity of entering the primary labour market. The available efficiency analyses unanimously state that public work forms have the biggest role in testing willingness to work and the obligatory nature is the strongest of all active labour market policies. Research also indicates that public work reintegrates only few people back to the primary labour market and the majority are restrained from seeking a job and other income generating activities. There are several reasons for and against public work and opinions differ. The paper summarises the benefits and drawbacks on the basis of international and Hungarian analyses.

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