The European Commission has released proposals for better functioning public job centres, as part of the fight against Europe’s soaring unemployment levels.
The proposals, released yesterday (17 June), include measures to get public employment services to work better together to match jobseekers with vacancies in European enterprises.
László Andor, the employment and social affairs commissioner, cited Austria and Germany as best practice models due to their highly computerised, proactive approach to job allocation and youth guarantees.
Despite record unemployment there are 1.7 million job vacancies in the EU, according to the latest issue of the European Vacancy Monitor, an EU labour market bulletin.
Andor said: “Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public employment services, which have a key role to play in active labour market policies, is essential to tackle high unemployment. This proposal would help public employment services to fulfil that essential role and support greater European coordination of employment policies.”
But Andor is wary of too much optimism when it comes to European unemployment, which is 11.3% for the eurozone and 10.4% for the European Union, according to the latest figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office. “This new proposal will not introduce a miracle, over-night cure,” he told reporters in Brussels. Last week, the European social partners – which include trade unions and employer associations – warned that Europe needed deep structural changes to reverse its downward employment trend.
The EU measures include a platform to compare the performance of public job centres against benchmarks and work out best practices. Job centres claim that such a system may help them detect labour market problems earlier on.
Working as a network, European job centres could also coordinate skills matching across borders, the commissioner said.
EU heads of states are to meet on 27 June, with discussions focusing on efforts to boost job creation, particularly amongst the youth.
Ministers agreed in February to launch the €6 billion Youth Employment Initiative, a series of measures to fight youth joblessness, with the aim of making it fully operational by 1 January 2014. Andor said discussions in the European Parliament and Council of Ministers were ongoing on whether to “frontload” the €6 billion.
“The recession is now,” he said. “We have to ensure there is forceful action now.”
The EU executive is also working in parallel to update EURES, the European job mobility portal.