The effectiveness issue of active labour market measures have been problematic in Estonia for a long time. So far, only two studies have been dedicated to the evaluation of various active employment services’ performance (see Leetmaa, Võrk and others 2003 and 2007). However, these findings have addressed only a limited portion of the provided services. Moreover, the selection of employment services has expanded significantly over the year 2006 and the implementation of ESF programme has extended it even more. As a result, previous assessments have not dealt with training and placement services at all. The study focused on three active employment services: start-up subsidies, training and internships; so it contributed to filling this substantial gap.

Conclusions of the assessment are:

  1. The structure and objectives of the services are ambiguous.
  • The objectives of the services are not always clearly defined. All services contribute to the programme’s objectives (increasing employment, decreasing unemployment and inactivity, improving the quality and availability of the employment services) but more detailed targets are unclear. At times it appeared that more specific goals or sub-goals are there but were revealed only by talking with service providers and in some places went apart from written information. Only verbally shared vision and objectives can, however, cause ambiguities and there may be a noticeable loss of information while reaching numerous labour mediation consultants over Estonia.
  • In addition, the objectives are not always related to indicators, for example, the goals of start-up subsidies are the employment growth and reduce of unemployment and the duration of unemployment but the indicator shows employment in new enterprises or then, indirectly the sustainability of enterprises. The goal of practical training is that the trainee works on the specific profession but the indicator deals only with overall employment which does not relate it with the profession. Inaccurate indicators make the later impact assessment difficult and allow interpret the achievements as needed.
  • In addition, target groups for whom the services are, are not always specified. It is clear that there are unemployed people but considering the number of them it is not a homogeneous target group especially in the present economic situation. However, the specific target groups mostly revealed while talking with service providers but they were not written which in turn generates the problem of version plurality.
  • In conclusion we can say that it is not entirely clear how the subsidies should work and what concrete problems they should solve. The whole picture is created by every person depending on his education (law, programmes and their frequent changes) and the people with whom they have interacted.
  • We recommend writing down the entire intervention logic of service or subsidy, starting from description of the problem, the precise target groups and their specific needs, to the indicators for impact assessment. This does not have to be a part of the overall programme but of the service standard or guideline etc.
  1. The lack of individual approach
  • The lack of individual approach to the unemployed also appeared. The general principle of the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s services is people-centred approach (including the use of individual job-seeking plan) by taking into account the specific needs of each jobseeker and by providing necessary services according to them. However, this assessment gave out that sometimes too little attention has been paid to the „diagnosis“ of people personal needs. Although the heavy workload of the Unemployment Insurance Fund caused by economic recession has made the implementation of individual approach difficult the main target group of the Fund should not be affected.
  • Hereafter, the attention to more personalised approach should be paid, by equipping offices of the Unemployment Insurance Fund with sufficient stuff, by informing employees more about the need of individual approach and by putting the interests of the unemployed and jobseekers first before the interests of service providers and other partners.