REC in Brussels -- latest from the EU
We've been doing the rounds in Brussels over the past two weeks, getting the latest on what's happening in the European Union (EU) and with our European neighbours. Given the ongoing Euro crisis, markets remain testy but there is a huge effort to try to stabilise things and achieve that all-important growth.
Last Thursday we took part in the latest European Commission's Jobs Mobility Laboratory, a research network of labour market experts from around the EU. The Commission brings the group together to design and carry out high-level research, including case studies from various member states to share innovation and best practice. The REC attends on behalf of the UK and we are also the only network representative from the private staffing industry.
The Jobs Lab's current focus is on youth employment, which is a serious issue in the UK and many other European countries. With countries like Spain seeing youth unemployment reach 50%, there is an understanding among leaders across Europe that immediate and decisive action must be taken to avoid a lost generation. The REC has been able to input a great deal of expertise given our 2010 Youth Employment Taskforce and subsequent campaigns. We were pleased to see the UK government announce a fiscal incentive earlier this year to help employers take on young people, and this sort of policy is being emulated across the EU.
The Jobs Lab is also starting to look at the ways that public employment services like JobCentre Plus work with private companies to deliver support for jobseekers. The UK's new Work Programme is of great interest to other European countries, and there are also some interesting models in the Netherlands and Germany. One advantage that we enjoy in the UK is that the role of recruiters in helping people into work is widely recognised, which is unfortunately something agencies in other countries are still trying to achieve.
We also attended the latest meeting of Eurociett's Public Affairs Committee, following closely on from the Ciett World Employment Conference that took place in London this May.
We heard the latest on the EU Employment Package, which takes some bold steps in terms of European labour market reform, recognising the key role that flexibility and, by extension, the recruitment industry has to play in work transitions and future job creation. Linked to that is Eurociett's ambitious "The Way To Work" project, which matches the Employment Package's five year delivery time scale, and will see global members pledging to help 280 million people into work over the next five years - more information will be relayed to REC members on that in due course.
The usual updates on AWR implementation were given. All but three EU states have now transposed the original directive into law, but none have dealt with the legislation as swiftly or effectively as the UK both in terms of working with government to implement the changes and in dealing with the ramifications of the new law as an industry. The REC is also setting the standard in terms of monitoring the impact of AWR. Across Europe, we alone have a dedicated system in place through our 'AWR Monitor' which is sought out by Eurociett members keen for some insight on what might be in store for them.
Finally, we participated in the EU Social Partners Dialogue meeting - an epic, six-hour exchange between the European trade union representatives and Eurociett members. A busy agenda saw an update from the International Labour Organisation on an international charter on private employment agencies, a briefing from Eckhard Voss who is leading an EU-wide research project on labour transitions, and an in-depth update and discussion on the progress of a new Directive on Posted Workers. This directive aims to create a level playing field for recruitment agencies across the EU and prevent unfair wage competition by bolstering compliance with national minimum wage laws - an objective we support. However, whilst the core of the directive is positive, there are various items within it that the REC and Eurociett will continue to lobby against, notably the attempt to implement joint and several liability for wage law compliance for all companies operating in Construction sector supply chains.
We will continue to monitor developments at EU level, and we'll be back in Brussels after the summer break for the next round of stakeholder meetings.