Technology lag hampers jobs, competitiveness

Only about 40 percent of the added value of goods produced in Greece originates in research, new technology and the use of innovation, against an average of 53 percent in the country’s competing EU partners and 72 percent in the USA, according to a study by union-sponsored Labor Institute (INE). According to INE’s director, Savvas Robolis, this feature explains to a great degree the Greek economy’s lagging competitiveness. The relatively low presence of technology in the Greek final product reflects the country’s delayed modernization, according to INE. It is this delay, the study continues, that will cause a deterioration in its economic situation, rather than pay differentials or the supposedly inflexible institutional labor framework. This technological lag explains why, despite a 25 percent fall in relative wage costs between 1985 and 2005, Greek employment and competitiveness have not risen, INE contends. According to a statistical study on the spread of technological innovation released by Eurostat in Brussels yesterday, Greece takes 23rd spot among the 25 EU members, above Latvia and Malta. Nevertheless, the study notes that Greece is among the countries closing the technological gap from those at the top of the list. The innovation tables are compiled on the basis of criteria such as approved patents, incentives for innovative activities, the promotion of knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit. Member states are classified into four categories according to performance. Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Germany are in the leading category, while the second includes France, Luxembourg, Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy. The third comprises the countries closing the gap which includes Greece, Slovenia, Hungary, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus and Malta. Finally, the countries losing ground are Estonia, Spain, Poland and Slovakia. According to Eurostat, only 1.9 percent of the Greek work force was employed in knowledge-intensive sectors (information technology, telecommunications and research) in 2004, against an EU average of 3.3 percent. Despite the overall poor performance, the study notes that Greece is doing rather well in some aspects, such as in tertiary education (near the EU average), and corporate investment in research and technology at universities (above average).

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