Vladimir Spidla: Reducing unemployment must be a priority for post-crisis Europe

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The Independent Online

During the summer, the number of people out of work across all 27 European Union countries rose to nearly 22 million, or nine per cent of the workforce – the worst monthly figure for almost ten years.

Against such a background, it is more important than ever to organise events encouraging people to look for work. By supporting the organisation of more than 500 job fairs, seminars, lectures, workshops and cultural events all across Europe, the Commission is doing just that. All events are aimed at supporting jobseekers looking for work in countries other than their own. While many areas are hit by unemployment, shortages for certain skills persist in other countries and regions.

Under the banner of "European Job Days 2009", a wide range of organisations, such as local businesses, public and private employment services, trade unions, employers' bodies, universities, learning and training centres and chambers of commerce will be taking part.

Having the right skills and/or the appropriate education can help an individual to move quickly from school into a job, to climb the career ladder, to find a new job after getting laid off or to enter into a more promising occupation. Add to that a willingness to move in order to find employment, and the chances of success are greatly increased.

The Job Days events are organised through EURES – a co-operation network between the European Commission, Public Employment Services in 31 European countries (the EU plus Norway, Iceland Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and other partner organisations. In cross-border regions, the network has an important role to play in providing information about and helping to solve all sorts of problems related to cross-border commuting that workers and employers may experience.

Labour mobility plays such a crucial role in creating work opportunities and bridging skills gaps, for example for qualified scientists, engineers and IT workers. And the needs of jobseekers and potential employers have changed. Adapting to change and ensuring the correct matching between labour market and supply are crucial factors if Europe wants to remain productive and competitive in the years to come.

The author is EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities