Targeted Help on Skills and Training Is a 'Win-Win' for European Policymakers

For Release

April 20, 2011

Targeted help to get young people into work and training, as well as efforts to update the work-skills of older people is a "win-win" scenario for European policymakers, according to a new report by RAND Europe. The study proposes that European institutions should focus on policies that support the most vulnerable groups in society in order to grow employment and reduce income inequality.

To help meet the challenges of the Europe 2020 strategy, RAND Europe assessed two key components of the strategy: promotion of labour force participation and reduction of income inequality. The report suggests that targeted interventions to help the most disadvantaged could achieve desired goals without having a negative impact on other groups or on broader economic outcomes.

RAND Europe found that the residual effects of the 2008 economic crisis have undone much of the progress made on improving employment and growth in Europe over the last 20 years. The key challenge now for policymakers is to target welfare policy effectively in a climate of fiscal austerity. The evidence shows that targeted policies to reduce income inequality do not need to impact overall employment. Similarly, keeping older workers in employment does not have to harm the prospects of younger workers.

Lead author Christian van Stolk, research leader in RAND Europe's Evaluation & Performance Audit Group, said, "Vulnerable groups, and in particular young people, remain at risk of poverty and not being in employment or education. The trend towards white collar jobs has increased employment opportunities for young people in general, but at the same time it has increased the chances that specific groups of young people will be excluded."

He added, "Having a job is a basic condition for social inclusion. Reducing income inequality will help to ensure that fewer Europeans lack equal opportunities."

Europe 2020 is the European Union's strategy for growth. The EU has set five objectives — on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy — to be reached by 2020. Each Member State will adopt its own national targets in each of these areas. Actions at EU and national levels will underpin the strategy.

Notes to Editor

A copy of the report manuscript, "Life after Lisbon, Europe's Challenges to Promote Labour Force Participation and Reduce Income Inequality," can be viewed at

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Ed Maxfield at or on +44 (0)1223 353329.

RAND Europe is a not-for-profit research organisation that helps to improve policy and decision making through research and analysis. It is an independent affiliate of the RAND Corporation based in the US. Its interdisciplinary research covers a range of policy-focused programmes and method-focused groups.

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