LABOUR Minister Ján Richter wants to reduce the number of jobless in Slovakia to 11.8 percent by 2016, i.e. the level of the average unemployment rate in the eurozone as recorded in December 2013, the TASR newswire reported on April 22.

The registered unemployment rate in Slovakia stood at 13.28 percent in March, down by 0.21 percentage points compared to the previous month. In annual terms the number of jobless fell by 1.4 percentage points, according to the statistics of the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (ÚPSVaR).

“I will be happy if we make it at least to the level seen in the eurozone,” Richter said, as quoted by TASR. “This is also the target that was set at Smer party’s congress. We will do our best to deliver on this objective.”

Slovakia registered the jobless rate below 12 percent in the first half of 2009, i.e. before the crisis erupted and the number of unemployed started to rise steeply, the Sme daily wrote.

One way to reach the proposed unemployment number is to reform vocational education, Richter said. According to him, the whole system should be returned to the way it was before 1989, when it was running properly. These days, Richter said, schools do not provide people with the kind education needed by the labour market, as reported by Sme.

Toward that end, the Education Ministry is working on a bill to introduce a dual education system, which would provide students with hands-on experience and work habits by enabling them to learn directly in companies.

“The deadline for submitting the bill to the governmental session is December 31, 2014,” Education Ministry spokesperson Michal Kaliňák told Sme.