EMPLOYMENT: BACK-TO-WORK STRATEGIES TOP BELFAST INFORMAL MINISTERIAL AGENDA.

 
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The event began with a 'troika' meeting of the current holder of the EU Presidency and the two countries in line to hold the Presidency immediately thereafter - Austria and Finland. Representatives of all three countries attended the opening troika meeting, which was followed by a plenary session bringing together all the delegates. In addition to Employment Ministers from the 25 EU member states, the informal was also be attended by MEPs and representatives of the 'social partners' (trade unions, public enterprise and employer groups), as well as delegates from several NGOs.

The ministers were then be invited to visit the two selected 'back-to-work' sites in Belfast: the Springvale Training Centre and the Shankill Jobs and Benefits office/Job Assist Centres. Both are community-based organisations providing vocational training and mentoring services to young people and adults and addressing the needs of those furthest from the labour market, notably the long-term unemployed.

Subsequent ministerial discussions were organised around workshops which aimed to explore key aspects of Europe's 'employment challenge'. These focused primarily on youth unemployment and the employment of older workers and inactive/hard to reach groups. The ministers then broke into groups...

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