This chapter aims to fill a gap in the understanding of the implementation of activation policies. More specifically, it presents reflections concerning the so-called ‘individual action plan’ (IAP) that serves as an instrument in the activation efforts in countries such as Denmark. Activation in Denmark is not allowed to proceed in an abstract, unstructured manner. Prior to being activated, an IAP has to be drawn up. It explicitly has to account for the content and purpose of the activation; that is, the means of activation which are employed (such as education or job training) have to be tailored to fit a well-defined ultimate objective. The client has to engage in dialogue with a social worker to negotiate the IAP. This dialogue must be built on the basic understanding that the unemployed person is genuinely interested in becoming integrated in the labour market. Subsequently, another basic premise for this dialogue is that the IAP embodies an attempt at balancing the wishes of the individual with the needs of the labour market. Mutual rights and obligations must be specified in the negotiations and, by signing an IAP, unemployed individuals are obliged to act in the manner agreed.
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