Unemployed and Invisible

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Currently in Lithuania there are about 50,000 unemployed, who could work but lack self-confidence, are experiencing negative self-worth or are financially inept. Many of these “invisible” people do not trust the state welfare system and end up in the shadow economy or working illegally. A Baltic survey revealed that this group has the motivation to work, but lack social skills and community support. Yet it is possible to bring these people out of the shadows, according to experts.

Thousands of people end up being “invisible” due to low levels of education and financial illiteracy. They rarely take on responsibility without being told what to do, and do not tolerate risk or anything new, but they want stability and concrete employment. They live in a negative mindset with financial stress, discontent with work, and uncertainty regarding the future, which negatively affects their health and their relationships and leaves them in a vicious cycle they cannot break out of.

Last year, 35.5 per cent of applicants registered at the Employment Service were not qualified for any profession, and the job market is geared toward qualified workers. The Employment Service now assigns those who are underqualified, long-unemployed, or who have addiction or other personal issues to a special category for job-preparation. Various programs have been put in place for this category, to provide consultations with lawyers or social workers and part-time work. In 2024 it is projected that 6,500 unemployed will be eligible for these programs.

Many people in this category choose to remain “invisible”, but even more often they fall through the cracks of the social assistance system. Non-governmental organizations could have a greater role. There should be a mechanism to distinguish “professional” applicants for assistance from those who are truly in need. These are usually people who are not accustomed to asking for handouts and or help. They are embarrassed by being turned down for jobs repeatedly, and withdraw. They could be helped by “assistants”, who would provide services such as writing resumés and coordinating interviews

Teaching social skills would also be important in improving their lives, for example, living on a budget, scheduling events, avoiding harmful behaviour, presenting themselves to potential employers. Experts also suggest counselling in financial literacy, managing debt, emotional health and reducing financial anxiety.

With every fifth Lithuanian being “invisible”, providing them with assistance is a social project requiring attention.