Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the EU Employment Summit – Labour Ministers Working Lunch
8 October 2014, Milan, Italy
(As prepared for delivery)
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me commend and congratulate the Italian Presidency for having placed labour market reforms, youth employment and active labour market policies so high on the EU policy agenda.
In the face of the deep scars to the EU labour markets, urgent action is needed to combine strong and sustained economic growth with job creation, especially for younger people who struggle to enter the labour market.
In this respect, the European Youth Guarantee is a highly welcome and much-needed initiative. However, as set out in the Youth employment and unemployment
, it must be complemented by policies that ensure a better match between the skills young people obtain at school and those they need in the modern labour market:
Greater opportunities to combine work and study, and to boost skills, are needed. As discussed at the G20-OECD-EC Conference on Quality Apprenticeships in April 2014, it is encouraging that several EU countries have reinforced their support of quality apprenticeship and internship programmes.
Barriers to youth employment, such as high non-wage labour costs and strict regulations – which discourage employers from hiring on open-ended contracts – should be eliminated.
Evidence from the OECD Employment Outlook for 2014 shows that temporary jobs often involve lower wages, less training and a higher risk of job loss. We need to make sure that temporary jobs become stepping stones to better, permanent jobs.
More generally, there is a need for more effective activation policies which encourage and help those without jobs to enter the labour market. This includes strengthening coordination in the administration of benefits and the delivery of employment services.
Many European countries have embarked upon significant labour market reforms to counter the effects of the crisis. This is not easy and rarely popular, but we have a moral duty to design and implement policies that allow everyone to benefit from more and better jobs!