Europe's "triple key" to boosting job creation

18-Sep-2013 @ 16:0

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Europe should follow the UK's example on employment by adopting a three-pronged strategy on job-creation, MEPs were told today.

Supporting lending, encouraging entrepreneurship and allowing flexibility through the right regulatory framework, were the three keys to unlocking the job-creating power of small businesses, a hearing at the European Parliament was told.

The hearing was organised by Conservative Employment spokesman Anthea McIntyre, who is lead MEP on a report which will set out fresh initiatives for the European Union to tackle its crisis of joblessness. The keynote speaker was UK Employment Minister Mark Hoban.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "As someone who has run two, very different, small businesses for over 20 years before joining the Parliament, I am passionate about helping SMEs and especially micro-businesses to thrive.

"The EU has some interesting policies and projects in this area, such as the Think Small First Principle and the SME Test. Also the Commission’s initiative which has identified the top 10 most burdensome EU laws for SMEs."

But she said more work was needed, and she identified a list of key challenges: "The number of people in Europe who wish to be self-employed has dropped from 40 to 37 per cent in the last three years. Almost half are afraid of going bankrupt and more than 50 per cent say it is difficult to obtain sufficient information on how to start a business.

"The EU is faced with serious skills shortages and skills mismatches which are acting as a brake on economic growth.

"By 2015, the estimated shortage of qualified ICT staff in EU will rise to somewhere between 384,000 and 700,000. More generally, the supply of science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills will not match the increasing demand of companies."

Mr Hoban encouraged the EU to follow the example of UK, where unemployment was below the EU average and falling.

He told the hearing that unemployment was the biggest social challenge facing Europe, with overall unemployment at 11 per cent across the EU and well over 20 per cent in some member states.

And he warned: "It is not the EU or governments that create jobs. It is businesses, and especially SMEs. They have created 85 per cent of the new jobs in the EU over the past 10 years.

"However, the EU and member states can work to create the right environment for business to create jobs. They can support lending, encourage entrepreneurship and create the right regulatory environment for business to thrive.

"In the UK we are addressing all these three areas and we are having success."

He stressed the need for flexibility in the labour market, and said: "The initial rise in part-time and temporary employment (in the UK) and the more-recent rise in full-time and permanent employment show the importance of giving employers the incentives and flexibility to create jobs, and of keeping people in the labour market and looking for work with an effective set of labour-market policies."

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