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EU Businesses Warn Of Skilled Worker Shortages

Thu, 02/04/2010 - 5:15am

BRUSSELS (AP) -- European employers called Thursday on EU leaders to act now to plug a gap in skilled workers by increasing training programs and doing more to attract well-educated migrants.

Leaders from all EU nations meet next week to chart ways that they can boost their sluggish economy and curb unemployment, currently at a 10-year high.

BusinessEurope, which represents more than 20 million companies, said it was a "tragedy ... that rising unemployment coexists with unfilled vacancies."

It says Europe lacks 20 million skilled workers and that shortages are acute in the information and communication technology sector.

A European Union report said Thursday that this trend will only worsen and that workers are not being trained quickly enough to fill some 16 million more high-skilled jobs that will need to be filled in 2020.

Employers said the EU also needs to focus on legal migration, saying this could "help to alleviate immediate labor shortages facing Europe." They say visa programs should be more flexible to allow migration to meet demand in the labor market.

They are also calling on EU nations to open up markets for goods and services to increase the European economy's ability to expand.

The EU is forecast to barely grow -- by 0.75 percent -- next year. BusinessEurope said speeding that up to 2 percent would keep an extra 6.5 million people in work and help cut governments' mounting debt and deficit.

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