The prospect of achieving thriving labor markets seems daunting for European Union member states. Unemployment, underemployment, a declining economy, changing demographics and skills shortages complicate real prospects for meaningful and sustained change. With increasing national debt in many countries, many governments have responded with knee-jerk reactions to cut budgets and, hence, jobs. The market has responded to this sentiment with downsizing or “right-sizing” to assuage the unions. The need to tackle unemployment is increasingly taking on a new urgency.
How can EU member states move away from the status quo of an anemic recovery to sustainability in employment and thriving labor markets? Accenture’s point of view—derived from our analysis of key trends, data and leading practices across various EU states—is that change can happen. It demands a willingness to look at the issues anew and address them with holistic strategies that can alleviate market fragmentation, change behavior among the unemployed, close widening skills gap and transform a weak business environment.