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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

vouchers for vocational training of unemployed jobseekers

Country of implementation
General short description of the innovation
From 2003, the market for training unemployed jobseekers was reorganized by issuing vouchers to potential participants. Vouchers specify in detail the kind and duration of training the holder of the voucher is entitled to. However, the choice of the provider of the training is left to the jobseekerˇs choice. The provider then presents the voucher to the jobcentre in order to collect the training fees. Previously, the jobcentre would purchase courses from providers and then refer jobseekers to these providers. Vouchers are also used in private job placement services and for activation measures implemented by external providers.
Target group
Total Population
Policy Field
  • education
  • employment
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
Starting 2003, in place since.
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: temporary/structural
  • Budgets: No budget attached to the reform as such; total expenditure for vocational training within active labour market policies affected. Spending for active labour market policy measures implemented through vouchers was 1.7 billion Euros in 2012.
  • Number of intended beneficiaries: There is no target; all participants in vocational training insofar as it is part of active labour market policies are affected. This number was 265,317 in 2012.
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
Increasing competition between training providers by introducing ‰consumer choiceˇ .
Nature of the innovation-long-term perspective
fundamentally new paradigm
Type of ideal-typical strategy for the innovation
  • typical strategy for the innovation (optional; according to Obinger)-liberalisation
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • training schemes (for the unemployed)
Clarification of intended mechanisms, outputs and outcomes (optional)
By delegating (1) quality control of providers and their courses to private accreditation agencies and (2) the choice of provider to the ‰customerˇ (the unemployed jobseeker who was been equipped with a training voucher by the jobcentre), competition between providers was to be increased, and preferences of jobcentres for certain providers were to be prevented. The whole measure is inspired by mistrust against public administrations and trust in markets and private organizations.
Intended target group
unemployed jobseekers needing re-training or skills upgrading
Working age population
  • educational level (low/medium/high) (low/ medium)
  • employment situation (please specify: e.g. typical work/atypical/unemployed) (unemployed)
  • main source of income: social protection (please specify; e.g. unemployment benefits/disability benefits/social assistance/other benefits) (unemployment benefits, social assistance)
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • making/implementation and/or evaluation-agency or national social insurance body
  • making/implementation and/or evaluation-beneficiaries/users
  • making/implementation and/or evaluation-private for-profit organisations (commercial)
  • making/implementation and/or evaluation-private not-for-profit organisations (e.g. Third Sector organisation or NGO)
Clarification of the role of various actors
Training providers need accreditation in order to accept vouchers. Both the providing organization as such and the particular course offered must undergo accreditation.
Intended output
  • governance (vouchers are a new way of training market governance)
  • training schemes
Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
By increasing uncertainty for training providers, the quality of working contracts with providers is downgraded. Providers are forced to use fixed-term contracts or to employ more freelancers.
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
Arguably, the reform had negative effects on labour market resilience (though these effects cannot be isolated from others): / / The reform was related to cutting down vocational training expenditure in the context of active labour market policies and thus to reduce investment in human capital: Vouchers issued but not used by the recipients blocked training budgets and resulted in under-spending. / / The reform increased selectivity in vocational training access among the unemployed: The already better qualified are better able to manage the voucher system; the less qualified who would need the training most tend not to use the vouchers issued to them.
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