Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

15/10/2019 Brussels

PES Network stakeholders’ conference: How to prevent unemployment in a changing world of work?

More than 130 participants took part in the PES Network annual stakeholder conference on the 2019 theme of unemployment prevention. The event brought together high-level representatives of European PES, European institutions, international organisations, social partners and civil society for a full day’s discussions in Brussels on 15 October.

This year’s conference focussed on the challenge of unemployment prevention, following the recent analytical paper How do PES act to prevent unemployment in a changing world of work. Relatively few PES aim explicitly at unemployment prevention, although it is much harder for workers to adapt to the new skills required in the changing world of work if they are unemployed.

In this sense, the main tool to fight future unemployment should be to prevent people from losing their job in the first place. The big question this conference aimed to address was: how?

Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, sent a video message to open the event, highlighting the significant labour market changes entailed by digitalisation. She also praised the PES Network as an excellent example of co-operation at the European level.

Johannes Kopf, Chair of the PES Network, stressed the need for employers and PES to work together to share information on future skills needs and put in place targeted training to enable people to sustain employment. PES need to continually innovate in the face of increasingly rapid labour market changes.

A high-level panel with representatives from OECD, ILO, University of Sussex, BusinessEurope and ETUC explored how the structure of employment may well change, including the nature of the relationship between worker and employer and the type of measures needed to prevent unemployment in this context.

Participants broke up into parallel workshops to discuss the following eight topics:

  • prevention for active people
  • career guidance
  • future skills needs
  • the role of ICT
  • communication to employers and employees
  • engagement of big companies and SMEs
  • mapping of stakeholders’ responsibilities and
  • youth entering the labour market.

Closing the event, Max Uebe, Head of the Employment Strategy Unit, DG Employment, stressed that prevention is a challenge requiring a change of mind-set for PES and citizens, whilst Johannes Kopf highlighted the importance of training and upskilling being accessible to the most vulnerable in the labour market.

See below for more information on the key messages from the event, the programme, presentations, workshop reports and the background analytical paper: ‘How do PES act to prevent unemployment in a changing world of work’.

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