Social partners want action, not words
By Sophie Petitjean | Tuesday 24 January 2012
European social partners are concerned by the rise of youth unemployment and are calling on the EU to adopt key measures, including in the field of education and training. Such is the message sent out by BusinessEurope, the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME), the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services (CEEP) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) ahead of the informal summit of the heads of state and government of the EU, to be held in Brussels in a week.
At a high-level meeting with the European Commission, on 23 January, the social partners stressed their commitment to combatting youth unemployment. They welcomed the initiative on the employment perspectives of youth, presented on 20 December 2011 by the Commission, while calling for measures that will lead to concrete actions. “The fight against youth unemployment cannot be confined to an announcement. It is far too serious a problem. The European Trade Union Confederation calls for concrete actions, which involve the social partners,” said Bernadette Ségol, ETUC’s secretary-general. Moreover, Ségol recalled that the trade union leaders will demonstrate, on 25 January, for social justice and equality.
The CEEP welcomes the fact that the Commission’s communication identified important problems for public service employers. “The CEEP welcomes, for example, the fact that skills mismatches have been identified as an important aspect. In times of fiscal consolidation being implemented in many members states, priority should be given to growth-friendly expenditure, such as education,” said Ralf Resch, CEEP’s secretary-general.
As for the UEAPME, it focused on measures encouraging youth employment that fit the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “Action must be taken on the functioning of the labour market on one side, and on education and training systems on the other,” said Andrea Benassi, UEAPME’s secretary-general. “We believe that support to entrepreneurship is needed through tax relief, fiscal incentives and specific training and mentoring measures (including on legal aspects) for young people willing to become entrepreneurs and for business transfers. Training should also be extended and made compulsory for secondary school teachers, who should spend some time each year within a small enterprise.”
Lastly, BusinessEurope, which represents private sector employers, recalled that it had already set up a work group to come up with concrete proposals to improve the EU’s contribution to training/dual training systems through the use of Community funds.