Job seekers: enforcing strengths, tapping the full potential

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No. 326 - Bochum, 18.10.2011

Job seekers: enforcing strengths, tapping the full potential

To learn from the Netherlands means to overcome problems of the labour market

Reducing public debt: RUB work scientists start new research project

The “Lohnwertmethode” (LWM, a method based on the value of wages) from the Netherlands could be the key to less unemployment in south-east European countries. If the instrument for more employment from our western neighbouring country can be applied to the labour markets in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Hungary or Spain is going to be explored by work scientists from RUB in a new international project with partners from 6 EU countries. INKAS – Instrument of Competence Analysis and Development – started at the 1st of October 2011 with a duration of 2 years. The EU subsidizes the project in its “Programme for Life Long Learning” with an amount of 300.000 Euro.

Reintegration: the faster, the better

As a result of the worst economic crisis since World War II the unemployment rate in many countries of the European Union has increased significantly over the last years. On the contrary the unemployment rate in the Netherlands is the lowest of all EU countries. Reason enough for the INKAS project partners to take a closer look: Among other aspects the Netherlands manage to reintegrate the unemployed into the labour market rather quickly. The sooner the reintegration is facilitated, the less the social security systems are challenged financially – that was recognized by the Dutch communities, therefore an adequate instrument has been developed.

Time to reconsider

Aim of the “Activa Loonwaarde Methodiek” (LWM) is to point out paths to long term employment by analyzing and utilizing potentials of job seekers. Thus the Dutch overcome the sole search for deficits of applicants – and the inherent danger of stigmatizing the concerned group. “The use of this instrument requires a rethinking of unemployment and a new approach in the labour market politics of many EU countries especially regarding this aspect”, Dr. Martin Kröll of the Institute for Applied Work Science (IAW) of RUB points out.

What the LWM/INKAS is capable of

With help of the LWM companies are able to measure the competences of an employee as well as the amount to which they fulfill their job requirements. This is mirrored by the so called wage value. In other words: Companies in the Netherlands can be sure that they pay for the actual skills of their staff members. The concept of the LWM is based on 3 principles: 1. on the dialog between management and staff, which is supervised by a professional adviser, 2. on the focal point being the strengths instead of the weaknesses of the personnel and 3. on the workplace related adjustment of the individual competence development. From the organization´s view former unemployed can be employed on a much more flexible basis, individually adjusted to the specific employability of the new employee. The instrument was developed together with scientists of the Dutch University of Groningen. In independent research institute validates the method frequently. The LWM has already been tested, implemented successfully and refined.

The aim: an instrument for Europe

Under the auspices of the IAW the project partners are exploring the potentials and limitations of the LWM in other countries: mainly in those, which are more affected by the crisis like Greece, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria, but beyond that also in Germany. The work scientists from Bochum cooperate amongst others with Activa, a company that has developed one of the six LWM´s in the Netherlands and renowned companies and research institutes from the target states, which were chosen out of over 50 interested organizations prior to the project proposal. To ensure a successful innovation transfer, the LWM shall be adjusted to the cultural and judicial frames of the particular country. The goal is to develop a marketable product, which can be offered Europe-wide. A project review concludes with regard to the added value of the project for Europe: “The expected results of the project seem to be highly suitable for a transfer to other European countries”. The report has been written by two independent evaluators for the National Agency “Education for Europe”.

Project partners

Partners of the Scientists from the Institute for Applied Work Science Bochum in the project INKAS are: Activa B.V. (Netherlands), Entwicklungs- und Betriebsgesellschaft der Stadt Bocholt EWIBO (Germany), Gabrovska Targovsko – promishlena Palata (Bulgaria), Pécs-Baranyai Kereskedelmi és Iparkamara (Hyngary), Actíva Prospect Research & Solutions, S.L., (Spain), EUROCULTURA (Italy) and Nikolaos Raptakis & SIA O.E. - iniochos.Simvouleftiki (Greece).

Editorial journalist

Jens Wylkop
Press Office Ruhr University Bochum

Further information

Dr. Martin Kröll, Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IAW), Tel. +49 234 32 23293




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