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AMS boss Kopf is convinced: "After the crisis comes the upswing" |  Tyrolean daily newspaper online

AMS boss Kopf is convinced: “After the crisis comes the upswing” | Tyrolean daily newspaper online

Mit der Corona-Joboffensive habe man das größte Schulungsprogramm gestartet mit Hilfe der 700 Millionen Euro von der Regierung, so AMS-Vorstand Johannes Kopf.

© APA/Neubauer

Vienna – The current crisis, triggered by the corona pandemic, is the largest labor market crisis since the Second World War. “After the crisis comes the upswing,” said the board member of the Public Employment Service (AMS), Johannes Kopf, in an APA interview. For this, the unemployed would have to be retrained and trained now. Before that, however, unemployment in Austria will rise to over 500,000 people and will probably peak at the end of January.

However, it is difficult to make a precise forecast of when the upturn in the labor market will come. From today’s perspective, it is assumed that unemployment will fall from the third quarter of 2021. Kopf sees vaccination and its spread as a turning point in development. Here there will be “pull-forward effects”: “If this vaccination is available to large parts of the population and is promised to others, then one can assume that the propensity to invest and consume will rise again because one notices that something is going on.” For himself he has already made the decision: “As soon as there is a vaccination, I’ll get vaccinated.”

High unemployment rate expected at the end of January

There will have been more than 500,000 unemployed by the end of December. Unemployment will surely be even higher in January. The peak of the absolute unemployment figures is expected for the end of January. In addition, one must seriously assume that there will probably no longer be any real winter tourism this year. This also depends on the travel warnings and quarantine regulations. The depressed tourism does not have such a massive impact on unemployment, since half of the employees are foreigners who now often stay in their home countries.

The development of unemployment in construction, which depends on the weather and snow conditions, is also important. If there is snow in deep areas in winter, construction work cannot be continued and orders cannot be carried out. Overall, the construction industry remained surprisingly stable during the corona crisis.

At the end of March, unemployment will in any case fall compared to the previous year’s figures because it exploded in March 2020 – with the start of the first lockdown. At that time there was an increase of 200,000 unemployed in 14 days. By mid-April, the unemployment rate had risen even further. “We have already sunk deeply, if I fell off, I can only fall one step or two”.

Corona aid “costs a lot, but works”

The AMS is well prepared for the economic upturn expected this year. With the Corona job offensive, the largest training program was started with the help of 700 million euros from the government. Furthermore, short-time work will be continued and the revenue replacement, coupled with a ban on dismissal, will be attractive for companies. “It costs an incredible amount of money, but it works,” Kopf is convinced of the Corona aid.

In some industries, however, an end to short-time working aid should also be discussed, says the AMS board of directors. He is against keeping thousands of employees in aviation for a long period of time with hardly any working hours. One must also take note of the fact that business trips will be reduced in the future and that some tourism will probably not return. For this reason, employees who work in these sectors or who offer services for them should also be given the opportunity to reorient themselves. Fortunately, there are also interested parties from tourism for the thousands of new nurses to be trained.

“Annus horribilis” with positive rays of light

The AMS board of directors is concerned about the sharp rise in the number of long-term unemployed. At the end of November there were 36 percent more long-term unemployed than in the previous year, namely 128,000 people. Of course, the integration of refugees in the labor market was also slowed down by the crisis. The big trends – digitization and home office – were accelerated by the crisis, however. Online conferences instead of business trips, and more and more work from home will stay, is what Kopf expects.

And there is increasing demand for workers in digitization, there is a shortage of skilled workers. “It was an annus horribilis, and yet there are also positive things in this difficult year,” said the AMS board of directors. He would like to express his thanks to the employees at the AMS who have coped with the onslaught of short-time working and unemployment. (APA)

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