In March 2015, the EU's Council of Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs adopted the Joint Employment Report (JER). The report was released together with the Annual Growth Survey, and is part of the European employment strategy which seeks to create more and better jobs in the EU. The JER focuses on the European employment situation and social trends. Among others, it looks at the EU Member States' policy responses to the challenges in the area of employment and social policy. The report is supposed to support future analysis, surveillance and coordination work throughout the European Semester.

The JER shows that the employment and socialsituation is still alarming. There are 24.6 million unemployed people and the number of those at risk of poverty or social exclusion is increasing. Especially the increase of the long-term unemployment rate is worrying. Therefore, the report suggests that the Member States continue the reforms to create better-functioning labour markets and long-term quality jobs with fair wages, decent employment protection, and safe and healthy workplaces. The JER also recommends stepping up of the Youth Guarantee implementation. This would mean paying more attention to public employment services and promoting for instance vocational education and training. The EU Member States should ensure a positive environment for companies to offer apprenticeships, thus helping the transition from education to employment. The JER also says that investing in human capital through education and training increases productivity. According to the report, the Member States have worked to introduce measures aimed at improving skills supply and promoting adult learning. Some countries have taken measures to improve their primary, secondary and tertiary education system, while others have addressed the overall education strategy. The countries still needed to continue shape their vocational education and training systems to increase productivity of workers.

In addition, the JER suggests to reintegrate long-term unemployedin the labour market, and improvingtax benefits systems to support job creation. Some Member States have already tried to do this through temporary hiring and subsidies targeted to new hires. The report also reminds about the still-existing gender gap although actions have been made to foster female employment and to reconcile work and family life. There should be access to affordable and quality childcare services, flexible working arrangements and decent leave policies. Finally, the JER recommends to improve social protection systems, including minimum income and unemployment benefit schemes, which should activate those who are able to access the labour market, and protect those who are furthest away from the labour market.

The report's analysis is based on employment and social developments, the implementation of the employment guidelines, the examination of the National Reform Programs and the assessment of their implementation so far. The purpose of the whole European employment strategy is to provide a framework for EU countries to share information, discuss and coordinate their employment policies.

For more information see also: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=2187&furtherNews=yes  and http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-2234_en.htm