Vouchers for employment – pilot program in Hungary
IFKA, as the Hungarian partner of the Social Impact Vouchers project, implemented its experimental voucher program between 1.2.2021 and 31.12.2021. The program targeted some of the most disadvantaged settlements on the action territory of the “Catching Up Communities Program” in Eastern Hungary. The experimental program has been implemented with the involvement and professional support of the TUTOR Foundation for Helping the Poor and the Sick as the external labour market service provider of the pilot.
The focus of the first months of the program was on the adaptation and elaboration of the documentation necessary for the implementation. The managers of the Presence Points of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta have also been contacted as potential partners operating in the planned implementation sites.
The labour market service provider first visited and organised recruitment events in Nyírkáta and Tarpa, and later in Nyírpilis, Nyírmihálydi and Piricse – 6 times in total.
During the program cooperation agreements were signed with two employers interested in employing disadvantaged, long-term unemployed job seekers from the target area: The Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta Association and the Tranzit Food Ltd.
The Charity Service was looking for workers for its public employment program, its sewing manufactory in Tarpa and its program for people with disabilities, while Tranzit Food Ltd. was looking for workers for its meat processing plant in Nyírgelse.
To engage job seekers and organise recruitment events the pilot program relied mainly on the staff of the so-called Presence Points, who knows job seekers personally. Involvement of the target group was hampered periodically by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to several postponements of recruitment events. The priority given to seasonal agricultural work in the summer also led to delays in the recruitment, placement and onboarding processes.
In spite of these difficulties, the Hungarian social impact voucher pilot program had been implemented successfully. By the 31st of December 2021, 63 target group members had been registered in the program as a result of the 6 recruitment events and additional individual registrations as well. Altogether, 40 job seekers had been placed at the 2 employers entered in the program and 18 of them have been employed for more than 3 months by the end of the voucher program. The final number of target group members employed for more than 3 months as a result of the program will be monitored in March 2022, as part of the follow up data collection activities.
Involving the labour market service provider, IFKA continuously collected data from job seekers and employers during the implementation of the pilot (registration, onboarding and offboarding data). In addition, the TUTOR Foundation conducted two interviews with the employers involved in order to ask their opinion and experiences regarding the voucherbased employment program.
Based on the data collected and the outcomes of the employer interviews as well as the results of the stakeholder meeting organised in Tarpa and the experiences of implementation, recommendations for the development of the program have been formulated. These experiences and recommendations form the fundamentals of a high scale employment voucher program with an estimated budget of 1,390,000 EUR being developed by IFKA within the frameworks of the 'Catching-up Communities Program' in the 'Recovery and Resilience Program' of Hungary.