EU employment ministers met in Luxembourg this week to discuss future demographic challenges among other; they also decided the so-called “Council conclusions responding to demographic challenges through enhanced participation in the labour market and society by all”. On the positive side it should be noted that the labour market is assuming a key role in respect of coping with an ageing population.
The proportion of elderly people in the total population is on the increase

Over the coming decades, Europe will see a gradual, but significant demographic change. In spite of the fact that the increase in life expectancy represents great progress, one must not lose sight of the fact that demographic change results in the proportion of elderly people in the total population rising whilst the share of people of working age is falling. This represents several challenges for social systems, public finance and labour markets, whereby the pressure because of this is even increased by the current economic crisis and its social impact. Measures are therefore needed, which enable the increase of employment rates of all people of working age. However, this will not be possible without investing in human capital. That is why EU employment ministers demand a clear commitment to more measures, such as the reconciliation between work and family life, to remove existing obstacles, which prevent European citizens from realising their wishes to have children.
Increasing employment rates in all age groups a key political objective

EU employment ministers have correctly identified that many future problems, for example in respect of the reduction of poverty and social exclusion can be cushioned by increasing employment rates in all age groups. The ministers presented measures in a few key areas, which, in their opinion, are essential in the fight against the demographic challenge. For example, in particular with regard to youth employment, measures shall be taken, which promote the first professional experience of young people and their participation in the labour market to ensure that they are offered a good quality job within a few months after leaving school or that they are provided with further education, an apprenticeship or an internship. In doing so, a so-called “Youth Employment resp. Employment Guarantee”, which Austria has already implemented, is indirectly demanded. In respect of the employment of women, a review of measures to promote a balanced representation of women and men in economic decision-making positions has been suggested among other. Interesting and new is the request in the pension sector, where in view of the adequacy and financial sustainability of pension systems an increase of contribution rates is demanded. No mention is made that it would be necessary to increase the legal pension age. This must be seen as a positive sign as contrary to common belief just increasing the legal pension age does not solve any problems.

Further information:

Council conclusions responding to demographic challenges through enhanced participation in the labour market and society by all