Part I - Situation and trends
2 Social Cohesion
For the past three years, there has been strong employment growth across
the Union, which has both reduced unemployment significantly and provided
job opportunities for people entering the labour market for the first
time or returning after a spell of inactivity. Most of the jobs created
have been in services, as in previous years, the majority in advanced
business and communal services - health care, education, recreational
and cultural activities - many of which demand a high level of skill and
education from the people who perform them.
At the same time, partly because of the shift towards advanced services
and high-skilled jobs, labour shortages have begun to emerge on a significant
scale in many parts of the economy, even in areas where unemployment remains
relatively high. These shortages are likely to get worse as the recovery
proceeds, particularly in information technology where the demand for
labour is growing rapidly and where already a substantial number of jobs
remain unfilled. Unless they are effectively addressed, they will tend
increasingly to slow down the pace of development.
Nevertheless, there remain substantial disparities in levels of employment
and rates of unemployment between different parts of the Union as well
as between different social groups, which manifest themselves in pockets
of deprivation and exclusion.