AGE welcomes the adoption by EU Employment and Social Affairs Ministers on 29 February 2008 of the Employmnet Report 2007/08. The report assesses Member States’ implementation of their National Reform Programmes in the area of employment. This report will be transmitted, along with the Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion, to the Spring European Council. AGE welcomes the Employment Ministers reference to the importance of increasing the employment rates of older workers, among other groups, if Europe is to successfully include people outside the labour market and counter-balance the effects of an ageing population.
Although there has been some recent progress in encouraging active ageing, only very few Member States have a comprehensive lifecycle approach to work. The current average exit age from the labour market (60.9) still remains well below the 2010 target. European labour markets are not sufficiently responsive to the challenges of globalisation and ageing. More needs to be done to improve their functioning and to facilitate labour market transitions.
Older workers still represent one of the largest target groups for raising employment. With a current employment rate of 43.5%, (6.5 pp from the 2010 Lisbon target), there is still significant untapped potential among older workers and their numbers will continue to grow during the coming decades.
Older female workers are the group whose employment rate has increased the most significantly (reaching 34.8%, a 7.4 pp increase on 2000) but this is still very far below the Lisbon target of 50% for older workers. This is the group which can bring significant gain but for that measures must be put in place to help this group reconcile work and family life. This is why AGE is calling for a new type of leave which would allow older workers, in particular women, to time off to care for dependant family members.
The lowest participation rates in lifelong learning throughout the EU continue to be those of older workers. The participation of older workers is still only half of the overall rate and adults with a high level of education are still more than six times as likely to participate in lifelong learning as the low skilled. Several Member States also see it as a particular challenge to motivate the less-educated and middle-aged part of the workforce to acquire new skills.
The press release on the EPSCO Council of 29 February 2008 is available here.