Saturday 20 January 2018

Subsidise firms to get youth off dole, says OECD

Leigh Thomas

The plight of youth unemployment in developed economies is so severe it has prompted the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to call for more government intervention, possibly including paying companies to hire.

It also said yesterday that governments should not roll back minimum welfare schemes and should reallocate, where possible, budgets towards programmes designed to get people back in work.

Unveiling its 2013 employment outlook, the OECD said joblessness was likely to remain high in its 34 developed member states through most of 2014.

But speaking after the report's release, the group's head of employment policy, Stefano Scarpetta, warned particularly of a growing emergency over youth unemployment.

"We are pushing for bold action to stimulate job creation for young people, even unorthodox measures that you don't necessarily consider in normal times, like some subsidies for hiring at companies," Mr Scarpetta said.

There are already about 48 million people out of work across the OECD's members. It forecasts that the unemployment rate will hit 8pc this year before easing only slightly to 7.8pc next year.

FIGHT

However, the outlook diverged widely with the unemployment rate set to keep rising in Greece to 28.2pc next year and Spain seeing its rate rise to 27.8pc in 2014, the highest in the OECD.

With many countries still struggling to recover from the 2008-2009 financial and ensuing economic crisis, the OECD said there were more and more long-term unemployed who increasingly risked losing their rights to jobless benefits.

Youth unemployment rates in Greece and Spain are near 60pc and economists increasingly see the problem as a top risk for the future of Europe along with the weakness of its banks, according to a recent poll.

EU leaders, who have made the fight against youth unemployment a priority, agreed last month to set aside €8bn for jobs and training, even as they admitted that the labour market would only sustainably improve once the crisis-hit region returns to growth.

The OECD urged governments to resist resorting to early retirement schemes in hope of reducing youth unemployment, which it said had little benefit but bore heavy costs.

Irish Independent

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