“The economic crisis is fuelling a stream of bad news about jobs in Europe.” writes Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission in the foreword of New skills and jobs in Europe: Pathways towards full employment (Adapted choosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor to follow)
People around us are losing their jobs and striving to acquire new skills to maintain their standard of living. The young face increasing difficulties in entering the labour market. We read every week about major lay-offs and worry about the competitiveness of our industrial sectors. We fear we will become more vulnerable.
Citizens may wonder what the European Union is actually doing to fight unemployment and a deterioration in working conditions.
On the basis of 17 comparative research projects at European level, the report provides evidence on the employment record of Europe and a critical assessment of existing policies. But it also tells us that there is room for more and better jobs if governments learn from mutual experience. The report argues that the way forward is a more open employment dialogue at European level, based on innovative comparative evidence compiled by first-class research.
Despite progress in recent years, Europe is still not sufficiently skilled. Nearly one third of Europe’s population aged 25–64 — around 77 million people — have no, or low, formal qualifications and only one quarter have high-level qualifications. Those with low qualifications are much less likely to upgrade their skills and follow lifelong learning.
The report documents what research says about jobs and skills in Europe.
(1) In particular, research convincingly shows that education systems characterised by more equal access to education and continuous vocational training are associated with lower levels of unemployment and higher levels of employment.
(2) Research shows that ambitious labour market policies that support a high variability of employment contracts over the life course, and that allow a high level of external as well as internal job-to-job transitions through active securities (making transitions pay), tend to be associated with higher levels of job creation.
(3) Research reveals the importance of work organisation for skill formation, skill maintenance and skill utilisation, and emphasises that it is not enough to make people fit for the market (through raising their individual skills) but that it is also of high importance to adjust workplaces reasonably in order to enhance people’s capabilities and to compensate restricted work capacities through, for example, technical assistance, carefully targeted in-work benefits or wage cost subsidies (making the market fit for workers).
(4) Research suggests the increasing importance of transversal skills, which means skills that cross the borders of disciplines or occupations and emphasise (not necessarily ‘higher’ but ‘new’) skills like abilities of communication, learning and problem solving, as well as languages and competences in information and communication technologies.
(5) Finally, only the good governance of skills (including workplace democracy, negotiated flexicurity, and fair risk sharing of skill investments) ensures the mutual enforcement of skill evolution and job creation under conditions of increasing economic uncertainty.
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