Fabian Demicoli

Commission’s proposals to tackle unemployment set the right priorities

 According to GRTU, the European Commission focused on the right priorities and struck the right balance between actions on the supply side and on the demand side of the economy. GRTU was particularly pleased with the Commission's proposal to boost vocational training, which now includes an ambitious quantitative target of 5 million apprenticeships before 2010, and with the suggested joint EIB-EC micro-credit scheme for loans to micro enterprises.

Employment and Social Affairs Director at UEAPME Liliane Volozinskis offered the following comments: "The European Commission has clearly taken our messages on board, emphasising the importance of flexicurity to modernise labour markets and focusing on the right priorities to safeguard employment during the present downturn. The European Council should endorse this ambitious plan."

The demand side of labour markets rightly gets more attention than usual and companies' difficulties are taken into account. The Commission's calls to reduce non-wage labour costs, decrease the burden of social security and promote entrepreneurship and self-employment are a welcome change of language from previous communications, which often focused exclusively on the supply of labour.

On the supply side, improving skills to better meet labour market needs is a clear priority for SMEs, which find it hard to recruit qualified workers, all the more so in the present downturn. We are certainly pleased with the EC proposal since vocational training is one of the best ways to get a job. However, we wonder how this target can be reached without support measures for crafts and SMEs, which are the main providers of apprenticeships and may be less than likely to host apprentices at this time of reduced economic activity.

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