Em­ploy­ment boost and vo­ca­tional train­ing a pri­or­ity, says Com­mis­sioner Thyssen

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Strength­en­ing em­ploy­ment place­ment ser­vices and pro­mot­ing vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing, are the two pri­or­i­ties to be set by the Cypriot gov­ern­ment in or­der to re­duce un­em­ploy­ment, ac­cord­ing to Mar­i­anne Thyssen, the EU Com­mis­sioner re­spon­si­ble for em­ploy­ment.

In an in­ter­view with the Cyprus News Agency, the Com­mis­sioner said that the qual­ity of the cur­rent pro­grammes of ac­tive poli­cies for the labour mar­ket should con­tin­u­ously and ef­fec­tively be mon­i­tored. She high­lighted the rec­om­men­da­tions given to Cyprus on the labour mar­ket within the frame­work of the an­nual rec­om­men­da­tions to mem­ber states (coun­try spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions) and com­pared the con­di­tions and progress in Cyprus with the sit­u­a­tion in Greece.

How­ever, Thyssen de­nied that the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has called for the abo­li­tion of the 13th and 14th salary in the pri­vate sec­tor in Greece, an­a­lyz­ing the rea­sons be­hind the high un­em­ploy­ment and herald­ing labour mo­bil­ity and move­ment of civil ser­vants. She also re­quested a re­port be pre­pared for the fu­ture labour mar­ket changes, the trade union law and col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing.

“There are many fac­tors that con­trib­uted to the pos­i­tive em­ploy­ment re­sults of Cyprus. The econ­omy re­turned to real growth in 2015 (1.6%) and is ex­pected to con­tinue in the fol­low­ing years (around 2.0%). The Euro­pean So­cial Fund has played a cru­cial role in fi­nanc­ing Ac­tive Labour Mar­ket Poli­cies schemes to tackle un­em­ploy­ment, which have proved to be suc­cess­ful. There was also a de­cline of the work­force it­self, for ex­am­ple by un­em­ployed per­sons leav­ing the coun­try or be­com­ing in­ac­tive,” she said.

“How­ever, de­spite the sig­nif­i­cant drop, still more needs to be done. Un­em­ploy­ment is still high at 14.1%. Es­pe­cially youth un­em­ploy­ment at 29.8% and long-term un­em­ploy­ment (41.2% of the un­em­ployed were longterm) re­main a source of con­cern.

“Al­though the chal­lenge of high un­em­ploy­ment is sim­i­lar both in Greece and Cyprus, the eco­nomic and labour mar­ket struc­tures and the root causes of the eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial crises that hit the two coun­tries are very dif­fer­ent.

“In Cyprus, the cri­sis had been driven by the col­lapse of the fi­nan­cial sec­tor, but the coun­try was equipped with well­func­tion­ing in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing a flex­i­ble labour mar­ket, while the in­tro­duc­tion of a guar­an­teed min­i­mum in­come in 2014 con­trib­uted to­wards a bet­ter tar­geted and more co­her­ent wel­fare sys­tem. From the out­set, the coun­try as­sumed full own­er­ship of the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance pro­gramme, im­ple­ment­ing struc­tural re­forms in con­sul­ta­tion with so­cial part­ners and mak­ing full use of tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance. This al­lowed for a swift re­turn to growth in 2015 ac­com­pa­nied by im­prove­ments in the labour mar­ket.

“The main pri­or­ity for Cyprus now is ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion. For this, the ca­pac­ity of the ex­ist­ing struc­tures needs to be­come even more ro­bust. First of all, Pub­lic Em­ploy­ment Ser­vices’ (PES) ca­pac­ity re­in­force­ment and in­no­va­tive re­forms is a must. This is cru­cial to meet de­mand and to de­liver qual­ity job-search as­sis­tance, in­di­vid­u­alised coun­selling and reach out to un­em­ployed peo­ple that are not reg­is­tered.”

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