Impacts of the Corona pandemic on counselling, assistance and support of long-term unemployed
The research project investigated the impact of the Corona pandemic on the group of people receiving long-term benefits under Social Code Book II, as well as on efforts to bring people into and integrate them into the labour market and to promote social participation and employability.
The research project is based on a qualitative research design. Within the framework of eight regional case studies, guideline-based expert interviews were conducted with representatives from job centres, municipal agencies and providers; in addition, problem-centred interviews were conducted with long-term benefit recipients. Furthermore, the research results were reflected upon and discussed in two virtual workshops in order to identify needs for improvement and to derive recommendations for action.
The research project provided relevant insights into the effects of the pandemic on the group of people receiving long-term benefits. Here, not only the immediate and personal effects due to contact restrictions became clear, but also the partially poor conditions for the utilisation of counselling and support services. With regard to the local help and support system, it became apparent that the institutions increasingly concentrated on themselves during the pandemic, which meant that support services for disadvantaged groups of people such as long-term benefit recipients were no longer provided hand in hand. A central problem turned out to be not only the lack of accessibility of municipal services, but also the lack of consensus about the competence and responsibility in accompanying long-term benefit recipients. Despite the commitment of non-profit organisations to maintain contact with long-term benefit recipients and to be available as a contact point, the support could no longer be provided comprehensively and accurately and can therefore be assessed as incomplete. With regard to the individual effects of the pandemic on the group of people receiving long-term benefits, a broad spectrum of behavioural reactions was observed, ranging from a high level of resilience to excessive demands and complete isolation. A direct negative effect on the personal situation resulted from the lack of a daily structure, which was no longer given with the suspension of activating measures. A greatly reduced offer of internships as part of the integration work made it difficult to gain practical experience, which reduced the chances of labour market integration. With regard to counselling in the job centres, the research results show impressively that the pandemic has led to a multitude of reflection processes - with regard to work organisation, but also with regard to counselling processes. It became clear that counselling and integration processes - triggered by the pandemic and the accompanying persistent contact restrictions - had to be redesigned and partly placed on a new footing. Telephone counselling developed into a new focus in contact with the clients. Despite the recognised added value of telephone counselling, it became clear that this counselling format could not replace face-to-face counselling, but only complement it.
IAW-Policy-Report 21 (in German)
- Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs within the framework of the funding network Interdisciplinary Social Policy Research (FIS)