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Frontpage News 2012 Labour market reintegration


Job training for Hungarian ex-soldiers

  • Under the slogan "Step up for yourself!", Hungarian ex-soldiers participate in a a comprehensive job training programme to provide them with skills needed for reintegration into the civilian labour market.

    Following the regime change in 1989/1990, and the transition to a market-based economy and labour market, the Hungarian armed forces have been professionalised. From its all-time high of 150 000 soldiers, the Hungarian Army is now slimmed down to a professional force of 29 000 soldiers. A total of 42 600 soldiers have been discharged since 1990, and the last regular conscript was discharged in 2004.

    Decentralised service
     The Socio-Political Public Foundation of the Hungarian Army is applying a €1.8 million grant from the EEA and Norway Grants to carry out a comprehensive job training programme for 4000 ex-soldiers. The new programme consists of professional and vocational training, career consulting and coaching. 10 regional representation and information offices have been set up throughout Hungary in order to offer a decentralised service able to reach out to ex-soldiers across the country.

    Much-needed initiative
     Ex-soldiers are a vulnerable group when it comes to reintegration into the civilian labour market. Few have any experience from working in a non-military environment, and few are familiar with the basics of job seeking. In addition, the massive influx of ex-soldiers into the civilian labour market has created an oversupply of labour, yet many ex-soldiers lack qualifications which are marketable in civilian life. At the same time, the vast majority of ex-soldiers are still of active and productive age, and keeping them on unemployment benefits is costly to society as a whole as well to the individuals concerned, who risk developing social and psychological problems.

    Local capacity-building
     The project is carried out in cooperation with the Soldiers for Legality and Security in Law Community Interest Foundation, the Hungarian Defence Industrial Alliance and the Zrínyi Miklós University of National Defence. Experts from the Norwegian Defence University College with experience from similar re-integration programmes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia will participate and provide training to instructors.

    Jakob Heradstveit from the Norwegian Defence University College has several years of experience from similar projects in the Balkans and Norway. He emphasises that all modern armed forces face the challenge of reintegrating ex-soldiers into the civlian labour market, and that failing to address these issues may result in ex-soldiers turning to organised crime. The presence of a large number of unemployed ex-soldiers may also undermine the general public`s trust in the armed forces and be detrimental to future recruitment.

    Heradstveit also emphasises the importance of capacity-building on a local level. "The task of preparing ex-soliders for the civilian labour market cannot be outsourced to foreign experts," says Heradstveit -- "which is why we are focusing on providing training to Hungarian instructors."

    Welcomed by ex-soldiers
     According to a survey carried out by the Zrínyi Miklós University of National Defence, 36 % of a sample of 20 000 officers and non-commissioned officers discharged from the army since 1990 do not enjoy permanent employment. 37 % were unemployed for periods between 12 and 18 months after being discharged, and two thirds of the respondents said they would have expected more help and follow-up from the Army in making the transition to civilian life. The project has thus received a warm welcome from the parties concerned. "At last an initiative is taken to provide soldiers with the skills they need to succeed in the civilian labour market," says Brigadier General Dr. Gábor Böröndi.

    On 11 December 2009, the conclusion of the first part of the project, "training the trainers", was marked in a diploma award ceremony in Budapest.

    Photo credit: Róbert Szita, The Socio-Political Public Foundation of the Hungarian Army.

  • Country:


    Project title:

    The training programme of the labour-market reintegration of soldiers

    Case number:


    Priority sector:

    Human resource development


    € 1,764,000



    Type & project assistance:

    Individual Project

    Project promoter:

    The Socio-Political Public Foundation of the Hungarian Army

    Type of institution:


    Project duration:

    20 months

    Project cost:

    € 1,960,000

    Grant rate:


    Grant from:

    EEA and Norway Grants

    Grant agreement date:

    08 July 2009

    The purpose of the Project is to provide training for former military personnel in order to reintegrate into the labour market, with the overall objective of contributing to social sustainability in Hungary. Reference is made to the application dated 4 June 2008, and to any subsequent correspondence with the Focal Point.

    The completed Project shall include the following activities and results:

    - establish 1 central office, 6 regional offices, and 3 information points to inform and recruit the target group;

    - educate trainers for the training programmes;

    - provide training for employment;

    - provide vocational training;

    - provide orientation training;

    - management and publicity measures.

    The Project Promoter is the Socio-Political Public Foundation of the Hungarian Army (Magyar Honvédség Szociálpolitikai Közalapítvány).

    Subject to national law, the Project shall be implemented in partnership with the Soldiers for Legality and Security in Law Community Interest Foundation, the Hungarian Defence Industrial Alliance, the Zrínyi Miklós University of National Defence, and the Norwegian Defence Education Command.

    The Focal Point shall ensure that the Project Promoter provides at least 10 percent of the estimated eligible Project cost.