Friday, March 08, 2013

Europe: Auditors Cannot Assess if Government Initiatives on Older Workers Actually Help

A report issued by the European Court of Auditors has found that neither European states nor the Commission are in a
position to establish how many older workers have gained new qualifications, or found or kept a job after having benefited from an action funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). According to "Are Tools in Place to Monitor the Effectiveness of European Social Fund Spending on Older Workers," the necessary tools to provide relevant and reliable information that ESF spending is meeting the European Union's strategic objective of increasing the employment rate of older workers have not been put in place by most audited member states.

Accordingly, the Court is recommending that, among other things, the Commission should require member states to design their operational programs (OPs) in such a way that the performance of the ESF funds can be measured. Specifically, the target populations should be unambiguously defined and relevant, quantified operational goals and indicators should be
defined to measure outputs, results and specific impacts at target population group level. Intermediate milestones should be set and a hierarchy of target values established. In addition, it should obtain consistent and reliable information from the Member States in order to be able to provide appropriate information on the means mobilized and the results achieved by the ESF.

The report notes that there were 117 ESF OPs for the 2007–13 programming period, of which 63 addressed older workers in at least one of the following aspects--(a) the OP explicitly identifies older workers as a target group, (b) the OP defines specific indicators to monitor the progress made for this group, or (c) funds were allocated for measures encouraging active ageing and prolonging working life.

Source: European Court of Auditors Press Release (March 5, 2013)

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