ECONOMY

Temporary work urged as answer to jobless rate

The head of the Association of Agencies for Temporary Employment and Company Staffing (ENEPASE) has called on the government to take action to facilitate temporary work as one solution to Greece’s structural unemployment problem. Referring to the country’s high jobless rate, the second highest in the eurozone after Spain, Thanassis Avraamopoulos said structural unemployment accounts for a large number of the unemployed and can only be resolved with the adoption of a structural labor market policy by the State. Structural unemployment arises when there’s a mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills and training of the labor force. «Investment and privatizations [of state-controlled companies] notwithstanding, structural unemployment will not decline if the government does not introduce a structural labor market policy,» he said. Avraamopoulos said such a policy would facilitate more flexible work arrangements, the most popular of which is temporary work. It would also be able to harmonize the educational system with the needs of the labor market as well as provide IT training to workers. Temporary work generated revenues of some 20 million euros last year, Avraamopoulos noted. There are currently five temporary work agencies in Greece supplying temporary workers to businesses, among them Manpower of the USA and global personnel staffing giant Adecco. Twenty to 30 percent of temporary workers are eventually hired on a permanent basis. Avraamopoulos said temporary employment comes in useful when long-term employees fall sick, when seasonal needs demand additional labor, when work is monotonous and when a special project needs more workers. Temporary work is still a novelty in Greece. Eurostat figures showed 15.6 percent of female employees and 11.5 percent of male employees had temporary jobs in 2000. Ton Biermans, deputy president of the French-based International Confederation of Temporary Work Businesses, said temporary agencies found employment for 7 million workers, or 1.9 percent of the working population, in the EU in 2001. «Agency work could create 4 million new jobs in the EU by 2010, which would mean work for 18 million people yearly, or a daily average of 6.5 million workers,» he said.