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Slovenian Minister Marjeta Cotman: "Our common interest is to increase youth employment"

The Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, in co-operation with the European Commission, organised a conference called "Jobs for Youth – Prosperity for All". The aim of the conference was to contribute to the discussion on successful integration of young people into the labour market, which is one of the most important challenges we are facing in the EU. The president of the EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, Mrs Marjeta Cotman, emphasised that "the European Union is not just an economic project. We have to bear that in mind when conceiving measures aimed at promoting youth employment".

The participants in the conference highlighted the issue of youth employment, or decent employment for young people, which reflects the objectives of the renewed Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs.

With the adoption of the common principles of flexicurity in December 2007, the basic question of how to enhance both flexibility and security on the labour market, especially for youth, has become even more important. Increased flexibility, via the extension of part-time and temporary employment, is most noticeable in the service sector and in the areas of social, cultural and healthcare work. A variety of new forms of flexible employment, attempting to offer young people greater chances to enter successfully into the labour market, can be found across the Member States. On the one hand, such forms of employment help young people in overcoming their disadvantage of less work experience; however, on the other hand, a trend can also be observed that many young people remain very long in employment forms providing only very limited security to the young worker.

Although in the period 2005–2007 there were 7 million new jobs created in the EU, the Lisbon Process has not yet managed to reduce youth unemployment. According to the Commission, in 2006 the average unemployment rate of young people aged 15 to 24 was 17.4%, whereas the youth unemployment rate in Slovenia in 2007 was lower than the average unemployment rate of the entire EU. The number of unemployed young people in Slovenia continues to drop; from 1996 it has dropped by 5.2%, standing at 13.6% in 2007.

At the conference, Minister Cotman stressed that young people need, above all, an environment in which they will be able to develop their abilities and affirmation of self-image, and therefore the measures must be aimed at the following objectives:

  1. making the transition from the school system to the labour market as easy as possible;
  2. "equipping" individuals with knowledge, skills and competences for successful coping with market requirements;
  3. ensuring high-quality and secure employment and appropriate social security within the (shortest possible) bridgeable period;
  4. promoting the occupational and geographical mobility in ensuring high-quality and secure employment;
  5. eliminating barriers which affect a young person’s freedom to decide to start a family; and 
  6. creating conditions for easier reconciliation of professional, family and private life.

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Date: 25.04.2008