|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.4, 25.1.01, p2|
POLAND next week will pledge to follow the Union's job creation strategy in a bid to cut an unemployment rate that is twice the EU average and prepare its workforce in time for enlargement.
Polish labour and social policy minister Longin Komolowski and Employment Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou will sign a joint declaration Monday (29 January) outlining how the country plans to overhaul its employment policies in order to bring them up to EU standards.
The assessment of employment priorities that the two parties will agree paints a gloomy picture of Poland's jobs market. Despite strong economic growth in the country the jobless rate has risen sharply to 16%, almost twice the EU average of 8.1%.
With its over-dependence on agriculture and with further job losses expected as nationalised industries are privatised, reducing this level will be an uphill struggle.
"Unemployment has been slow to respond, as yet, to the recovery in economic growth that commenced in late 1999," the report states. "Moreover, unemployment displays a number of clear structural features - most notably relatively high unemployment rates among young people, women and the less educated, significant long-term unemployment and wide variations in unemployment across regions."
Because of its population size, geographical location and historical links with other parts of Europe, Poland's entry in the first wave of enlargement is seen as politically essential.
Warsaw's ability to shape up the country's record on employment could be a determining factor as to how long its workers must wait before they are given full free movement rights in the EU - and even influence when that first wave of expansion can take place.
The joint assessment report identifies a raft of policy measures Poland must adopt in order to address the structural problems in its labour market.
Diamantopoulou and Komolowski will agree that the completion of schools reform and efforts to raise standards of general education in the adult population are key priorities. The Poles will also pledge to cut taxes and simplify the country's taxation system.
The report warns there is a real danger the unemployment rate could rise rather than drop in the near future. Additional job losses are expected as more painful reforms in the run up to enlargement come on line.
Official estimates put the extent of Polish over-employment at approximately 900,000 and an additional 300,000 job losses are expected between now and 2006 as a result of privatisation of public enterprises in the industrial and transport sectors.
Educational levels in the labour force, although rising, are still "relatively low", according to the report. In addition, even when workers do have qualifications, they are often not equipped with the skills needed in today's job market.
The report states Poland's system of education has been too inflexible for the modern age, emphasising an overload of encyclopaedic knowledge or narrow specialised vocational training rather than individual thinking.
Poland will pledge to follow the Union's job creation strategy in a bid to cut an unemployment rate that is twice the EU average and prepare its workforce in time for enlargement.
|Countries / Regions||Poland|