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   The  Commission,  at  its  meeting of 16  February  1994,  adopted  draft
   guidelines  for  a  series of individual Community  initiatives  for  the
   period  1994-99  (see  IP(94)131).  In this  context,  a  new  initiative
   concerning  employment and the adaptation of the workforce to  industrial
   change was launched (ADAPT).  This initiative is to be financed from  the
   European  Social  Fund  and shall apply to the  Union's  territory  as  a
   whole.

   ADAPT aims to implement a major transnational action programme linked  to
   the  new  Objective  4  of the Structural Funds.  Objective  4  has  been
   specifically   created  to  facilitate  the  adaptation  of  workers   to
   industrial change and changes in production systems. The initiative  also
   takes  as  a  basic  point  of  reference  the  White  Paper  on  Growth,
   Competitiveness  and  Employment  which  was endorsed  by  the  Heads  of
   Government  of the Union at their meeting in Brussels on  10/11  December
   1993. The proposed budget is 1.4 billion ECU.

   As the White Paper makes clear, reducing the risk of unemployment and the
   maintenance  and  creation  of  jobs,  at  a  time  of  high  and  rising
   unemployment,  is amongst the greatest challenges facing the Union as  it
   moves  in  an  increasingly  competitive  environment  towards  the  21st
   century. Meeting this challenge is not only dependent on higher rates  of
   investment and better macroeconomic conditions to achieve faster  growth,
   it also requires a world-class workforce capable of adapting to  economic
   and technological change and developing the Union's competitive edge.

   This initiative represents a significant part of the Community's response
   to  the  challenge set out in the White Paper.  The  measures  which  the
   Community  will support under this initiative are designed  to  encourage
   Member  States to undertake the reforms proposed in the White Paper.  The
   initiative is in essence about stimulating and supporting change.

   The  four interrelated objectives of this initiative are to :

      - assist  workers, especially those threatened with unemployment as  a
        consequence  of  industrial change, to adapt to  increasingly  rapid
        changes in the organisation and structure of employment;

      - help   enterprises   increase  their  competitiveness,   mainly   by
        encouraging organisational adaptation and non-physical investment;

      - prevent unemployment by improving qualifications of the workforce;

      - facilitate the development of new jobs and new activities.

   These  objectives  will require major efforts to  develop  and  implement
   adequate  training  schemes,  to  identify and  develop  new  skills  and
   qualifications,  to upgrade the level of existing skills and improve  the
   ability  of the workforce to acquire new skills, to develop  and  support
   innovative  approaches focused on networking between enterprises, and  to
   promote the diffusion of R&D results.

   In principle, actions under this initiative will be horizontal,  covering
   the economy as a whole without reference a priori to specific sectors. In
   practice,  there  will  be a concentration of  measures  along  different
   priority axes depending on what will be agreed between the Commission and
   the Member States. Priority axes for concentration might include:

   -  the sectors which are confronted with common difficulties as a  result
      of the industrial changes throughout the Community (multisectoral  and
      transnational approach) ;

   -  the companies in regions strongly affected by similar requirements  of
      transformation (multisectoral, regional and transnational approach);

   -  the  networks  subcontractors  and  SMEs  strongly  dependent  on  the
      structural  adjustments of large firms  (multisectoral,  cooperational
      and transnational approach);

   -  the  themes  related to new production  technologies,  new  production
      methods,   total   quality,  the  organization  of  work,   means   of
      communication,  systems  of marketing and of  distribution  (thematic,
      multisectoral and transnational approach).

   While  this  initiative  shares with  Community  Support  Frameworks  the
   primary  objective  of  maintaining  and  increasing  employment  in  the
   Community,  it  is quite distinct in its underlying rationale,  aims  and
   methodologies.  The  distinguishing  features which  seek  to  achieve  a
   special   added  value  for  the  Community  include  its   emphasis   on
   transnational  cooperation  and networking, its focus on  innovation  and
   change  and the accent put on encouraging a bottom-up approach  involving
   all those interested in the process of industrial change.

   Commenting on the approval of ADAPT by the Commission, Mr. Padraig Flynn,
   Commissioner  responsible for Employment and Social Affairs  said:  "This
   initiative aims to meet one of the main challenges the Union faces  today
   -  the  development of a flexible and sophisticated  workforce,  equipped
   with  the  skills necessary to adapt to new  economic  and  technological
   realities. As we move towards the 21st century, it is vital that we  have
   the means to respond to changing labour market requirements".

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