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EC recognises UK success in sustaining employment


The European Commission has criticised the major economies on the continent for not achieving a higher rate of employment. Britain, by contrast, was praised for achieving the EU's target of full employment (defined as 70% for men and 60% for women).

In general, the EU's employment performance has improved since 1997, but each country was "invited to make improvements". Germany, France, Spain and Italy were all considered to have serious concerns affecting their capacity to sustain high employment rates. And the news wasn't all good for the UK, as the Commission sounded the same note as Gordon Brown did earlier this week by deploring the low levels of basic skills in the UK workforce, and recommending greater involvement in training by employers organisations and unions. Other major concerns were the gender pay gap, cost of childcare, and the high number of people entering longterm unemployment, particularly in certain groups.

The Commission's recommendations for Britain stated "Long-term unemployment is concentrated in deprived areas and amongst, for example, certain ethnic minorities, the disabled, male older workers and lone parents. Policies to prevent adults entering long-term unemployment and to promote effective jobsearch should therefore be reinforced, with particular attention given to disadvantaged groups. Finally, there are low levels of basic skills in the workforce and 20% of employers say there are significant deficits in their workers' skills all of which continues to limit labour productivity. Efforts must therefore be intensified to encourage and develop work-based training to address increasing skill gaps and low levels of basic skills."


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