People on unemployment will be permitted to enter academic programs without losing their benefits, RÚV reports. This is among the changes to current law being developed by a working group appointed by the Minister for Social Affairs.
Minister for Social Affairs and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason says that the changes are intended to benefit the long-term unemployed, among others. “People who are long-term unemployed can enter a study program as part of their [re-employment strategy], similar to what was done here after the financial crash. And I’m pinning a lot of hope on this—we’re putting the finishing touches on how it will be implemented and we’ll hopefully be able to introduce it in the coming days,” he explained.
According to a report published by the Directorate of Labour, unemployment at the end of July was at 8.8%. This is a slight improvement over June, if the percentage of people who are receiving both full- and part-time unemployment benefits are considered together. Currently, the number of people on part-time unemployment has gone down, but the number of people on full unemployment benefits has gone up. Taken together, there are currently around 21,000 people on some form of unemployment. Unemployment is expected to remain relatively stable in the coming month, or an anticipated 9% in August.
Unemployment highest in southwest
Broken down, the current data shows that unemployment is highest in the southwest, or 16.5%. It’s also higher among women in the same region: 19% of women versus 15% of men in the southwest are unemployed.
According to Unnur Sverrisdóttir, head of the Directorate of Labour, this gender disparity can be accounted for because a significant number of jobs in the tourism industry are typically staffed by women. “It’s cleaning in hotels, it’s service in restaurants etc, and, of course, it’s also flight crews. You could say that this probably started last year when WOWair went under.”
One out of five foreign nationals unemployed
The directorate’s data also shows that one out of five foreign nationals residing in Iceland is unemployed, or roughly 7,000 people total. The majority of these individuals are Polish, although Lithuanians make up the second-largest group of unemployed foreign workers, followed by Latvians.
“Thought it’s a shame to say, it’s like we’ve said before,” said Unnur. “Foreigners were the first out of the labour market and things have not gone very well for them getting work again.”