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Schröder Plans to Revamp Labour Office

After the labour office scandal that rocked his government earlier this month, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder gets his act together by announcing comprehensive reforms to the labour office.


Scenes such as these at a state employment agency might soon be a thing of the past if reforms are implemented

Still smarting from a devastating report earlier this month that the labour office grossly exaggerated success rates in finding people jobs, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder unveiled detailed plans to reform the labour office system in Berlin yesterday.

The changes are accompanied by an overhaul of the labour office's top management to make the self-governing agency more transparent and accountable.

Florian Gerster, social affairs minister for Shröder's Social Democratic Party in the state of Rheinland-Palatinate will become the labour office's new Head. He replaces the controversial Bernhard Jagoda, under fire for his slip-ups and negligence in the recent scandal.

Modernisation and more competition

Together with Federal Labour Minister, Walter Riester, Schröder announced yesterday that more private employment agencies will be allowed to compete directly with the state organisation through a voucher scheme for the unemployed.

"Firstly: self-governance needs competition. Secondly, the labour office must concentrate on its fundamental aim and that is job placement. And thirdly, we need a modern, customer-friendly, high-performing business management", Schröder said at a press conference.

He promised to modernise and trim the gigantic bureaucracy at the Labour office and proposed allocating more of the labour office's 90,000 staff to job placement.

Other reforms include introducing internal competition among the labour office's 181 branches and even introducing some form of incentives.

The Chancellor also suggested setting up an expert commission that would monitor and examine the working and administration of the labour office.

Discrepancies erode labour office's credibility

Created 50 years ago, the labour office or "Die Bundesanstalt für Arbeit" was originally meant to be the first address for job placement and adminstering unemployment benefit.

But its responsibilities have increased over the years. Among ist functions are careers advice and vocational training as well as the administration of job creation schemes, especially in the economically battered east.

The labour office's credibility took a severe beating when a top watchdog body pointed out earlier this month that about seventy percent of the statistics compiled by the office were false or exaggerated.

Rather than a 51 percent success rate as claimed the office, the report said that employment had been found only for 18 percent of the applicants.

With unemployment climbing above the politically sensitive 4 million mark and elections due in September, Schröder is under pressure to show that his government is seriously tackling the problem and helping people find jobs.

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