A Decision to modernise and improve EURES, the pan-EU job search network, has been adopted by the European Commission (EC). The Decision will help to increase mobility of workers across Member States and pave the way for a true European labour market. The EURES reform aims to make it easier for jobseekers to contact employers looking for particular skills, to focus on sectors and occupations with skills shortages and to support targeted mobility schemes for young people, the EC announced.
EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented: “Improving jobseekers’ mobility between Member States can be part of the solution to the current unacceptably high levels of unemployment. The improved EURES network will aim to help people who are ready to move to another country to identify where suitable job vacancies exist and to help employers to find suitably skilled workers. We now call on all Member States to get ready to implement the reform”.
Despite high levels of unemployment (over 25 million people in the EU) there are still labour shortages and vacancy bottlenecks. Indeed, the number of unfilled vacancies has been on the rise since mid-2009, particularly in high growth areas such as information and communications technologies and the green economy.
EURES is an existing job search network of 31 European employment services in the EU Member States, EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. The new Commission Decision will help EURES to respond directly to specific economic needs. As a result, EURES will proactively match jobseekers and job-changers to current job vacancies. It will also give employers better access to a pool of candidates where they can find the skills they need to develop and grow their businesses.
The reform will focus EURES more on young people, who have a higher propensity to be mobile, and cover forms of employment that combine work and learning opportunities, such as apprenticeships. Lastly, the EURES web portal will be revamped to create user-friendly online matching tools and access to skills-based labour market intelligence.
The reform will extend the number of partners offering mobility services through EURES and will put in place co-operation between public and private job search organisations in order to cover an even higher percentage of available vacancies – currently it covers between 30-40% of the total vacancies available.
The Decision is due to be implemented by the Commission and Member States by 1 January 2014. By then, all participating countries will have to designate specialist services to organise the reform, work with new partners and develop the necessary targeted services.
Free movement of workers allows EU nationals to look for a job in another EU country, to work there without needing a work permit and to enjoy equal treatment with nationals of the host country in terms of access to employment, working conditions and social benefits.
Currently EU citizens living in a Member State different from their nationality constitute only 3.1% of the EU labour force. The number has increased by almost 60% since 2005, mainly driven by the 2004 and 2007 enlargements. Overall it is estimated that post-enlargement mobility flows increased the GDP of EU-15 countries by around 1% in the 2004-09 period. However, the economic crisis has led to a decrease in mobility flows between EU countries – in 2009-11, intra-EU mobility flows dropped by one third, compared to the 2006-08 period.
The EURES job mobility portal is already unique in the EU as it is free of charge and gives information on living and working conditions in all participating countries in 25 languages. The website receives with 4 million visits per month, sets up 150,000 contacts per month between jobseekers and employers leading to approximately 50,000 placements per year, and on average hosts 750,000 CVs at any one time in a given month. There are hundreds of events taking place all over Europe that can be consulted in the EURES Events Calendar.