To tackle rising levels of unemployment and create jobs, EU funds must be far better targeted to match the needs of Europe's key growth sectors the President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), Ramón Luis Valcárcel, said today. Speaking during a conference in Dublin, President Valcárcel said that though there is no "one size fits all" solution to dealing with Europe's unemployment problem, education and training programmes must be tailored to reflect the needs of national and local economies. "It is extremely important to involve local and regional authorities in delivering the new "Youth Guarantee" scheme to answer to the youth unemployment challenge", he stressed.
With unemployment among young people in Europe standing at 5.7 million and with 73 million people with low-levels of education in Europe, President Valcárcel argued that programmes must focus on offering the next generation the right skills to meet the needs of the growth industries, such as the "Digital" (ICT) sector. His intervention came only a day after EU Members States approved the new "Youth Guarantee" which offers assurance that no young person will be left without employment, training or education for more than four months. President Valcárcel stressed the importance of engaging local and regional authorities in its implementation as most of the competences in education and training are at found at that level.
Mercedes Bresso, the Committee of the Regions' First Vice-President, also emphasised the importance of EU policy as being a driver for growth. She added that, "The true impulse for growth will only come when we combine both labour market demand and supply side policies. In other words enterprises must be able to create new vacancies so that those losing their jobs today, and the younger generation of Europeans looking for employment in the future, can truly benefit from European policies and assistance provided by local and regional employment services".
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí, reaffirmed this point arguing that EU investment has contributed to tackling unemployment in his city. He said, "Cities across Europe are facing similar challenges and in Dublin we are taking direct action to address these challenges. Projects such as Innovation Enterprise Network, an initiative of the Dublin Regional Authority, which helps skilled unemployed professionals return to the workplace are making the difference and equipping people with the right skills today for the jobs tomorrow".
With job creation and economic stability at the heart of the Irish EU Presidency, Phil Hogan T.D., Irish Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, added that Ireland was making headway in meeting these shared goals. Outlining some of the measures put in place in Ireland he said, “Only last week the Taoiseach launched the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 which aims to rebuild the economy and accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy based on enterprise, innovation and export. It will support job-creating businesses and remove barriers to employment creation. This complements the Action Programme for Effective Local Government launched last year which reforms the main areas of local government and will enhance the role of local government in economic development and job creation. It includes the integration of enterprise support functions in local government, alignment of local and community development with the local government system, and the assignment of a clearer and stronger mandate to local authorities in economic development”.
The event "Agenda for skills and jobs", organised in collaboration with the Irish EU Presidency, is the second in a series of seven conferences being organised by the CoR that assess the implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives at a local and regional level. EU cities and regions are increasingly challenged to support employment given: local and regional expenditure for social and employment policies are being cut, while the number of unemployed young people is dramatically increasing as a result of the crisis. The conferences will feed into the CoR's contribution to the European Commission's midterm assessment of the 2020 Strategy.