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EU's 'New Skills' plan should not just be about 'new workers' says Liz Lynne

November 24, 2010 6:14 PM

A flagship new EU initiative to boost skills and jobs must be not just about new workers but also help older or disabled people play a more productive role in the labour market, Lib Dem European Employment Spokesman Liz Lynne said today.

The West Midlands MEP and First Vice Chair of the Employment and Social Affairs committee broadly welcomed the 'New Skills for New Jobs' plan launched by EU Commissioner Laszlo Andor at the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday.

MEPs debated an expert report with recommendations on how to advance the New Skills for New Jobs agenda as part of the EU 2020 strategy. The agenda and its 13 key actions is designed to help EU countries achieve an employment rate of 75% across the population by 2020, it is currently 69%.

Commenting on the initiative, Liz Lynne MEP said:

"There is a lot in this agenda which I welcome, such as a stress on lifelong learning, flexible labour markets and the need to scrap unnecessary 'red tape' defined as a key action.

"We need to improve people's skills, right across all member states. This applies not just to people in work, but also the skills sets of people out of work who all too often can find themselves excluded and left behind.

"As jobs are created, we will need skilled people to fill them. And this means we need more and better work-related training for young people.

"But 'new skills for new jobs' should not just be about 'new workers.' The document highlights the importance of specific initiatives to retrain older workers, which I welcome, but I do think it could go further on age issues.

"The Commissioner highlights that demographic trends will be a huge challenge, but does not go far enough in my view in detailing how to tackle the age discrimination which often prevents older workers from making their full contribution.

"We need to see demographic change as an opportunity. Older people often have incredibly valuable skills and experience but all too often face discrimination, not only in applying for jobs but in accessing training while in work.

"Likewise, many disabled people with the right training and access to skills could play a much greater role in the labour market than they currently do. This must not be forgotten."


Notes to editors:

New Skills for New Jobs is a joint policy initiative produced by the European Commission and the EU Member States. It aims to address employment issues by supporting EU countries and regions in developing more effective ways to analyse and predict the skills required in tomorrow's labour markets and develop education and training to provide them.

For more information on the Commission's announcement please see: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/1541&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en