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DfEE meet with Spanish ministers to discuss skills shortages


Ministers from the Department for Education and Employment are joining forces with their Spanish counterparts to discuss ways of alleviating skills shortages across Europe.

<img src="/sites/default/files/siftmedia-photolib-blunkett.jpg" border=0 alt="David Blunkett" vspace="5" hspace="5"
<img src="/sites/default/files/siftmedia-photolib-tessa_jowell.jpg" border=0 alt="Tessa Jowell"

Secretary for Education and Employment David Blunkett and Employment Minister Tessa Jowell are meeting up with Juan Carlos Aparicio at a joint employment seminar being held in Birmingham today for the fourth in a series of joint meetings which have been taking place since 1998. As part of the collaboration between the two countries, students from catering colleges are undertaking training in eachothers' countries.

Speaking before the meeting Mr Blunkett said: "We are all familiar with the phenomenon of skill shortages co-existing with persistent high unemployment. A skilled and productive workforce will increase employment, reduce inflationary pressures and create the conditions for sustained economic and employment growth. That was the message of the Lisbon summit and I hope this seminar will identify those policies and programmes that will make it a reality."

Tessa Jowell said: "In the UK our Employment Service reports one million vacancies and yet we also have one million unemployed people and a further 7.6 million people of working age who are inactive in the labour market. There is a mismatch between the skills and attributes that employers say they need and those that unemployed people have to offer. And the skills mismatch is not just restricted to those out of work; many employers also reporting skill gaps amongst existing employees......some commentators have estimated that if we do not do anything to address this skills gap, 12 per cent of vacancies for professional IT jobs could go unfilled in 2002. Furthermore we know that one of the principal consequences of skills shortages is increased cost to employers."

Mr Blunkett and Ms Jowell outlined existing and planned schemes aimed at closing the skills gap, including the New Deal, the work of the Skills Task Force, the incoming Learning and Skills Council, Employment Zones and Education Action Zones around the country.

As part of the meeting, the Spanish delegation accompanied by Tessa Jowell visited Birmingham Employment Zone to see how the programme is helping the long-term unemployed in inner city areas back into work.


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