Aptly entitled "Jobs for the Future", the 43-page report puts forward a ten-point action plan for policy-makers and business to promote top jobs for the 21st century. The basic idea was to distil key proposals that could serve as "a roadmap for Europe", according to Paul Hofheinz, President of The Lisbon Council. "Our aim is to ensure the report's recommendations are high on the agendas of all the key policy-makers and influencers, notably the European Commission and the Competitiveness Council", he said.


The 15 high-growth sectors of the future highlighted in the report are: aerospace; audiovisual industries; aviation; banking and insurance; defence; the eco-economy; health care provision; information technology; pharmaceuticals; security; social and community; space; telecommunications; transport; travel and tourism.


Mark Spelman, global managing partner for business growth and strategy at Accenture, was meanwhile due to meet key UK and EU officials in Brussels after presenting the report to journalists on November 22. Like many other analysts of European labour markets, Messrs Hofheinz and Spelman cited flexibility in the UK and a culture of innovation and lifelong learning in Denmark, Sweden and Finland as successful examples worth emulating.

The Nordic countries are well placed to exploit growth in areas such as information technology, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals, especially biotechnology. At the same time, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which are characterised by a culture of entrepreneurism and large, untapped markets, will be well placed to experience growth in travel and tourism, financial services and retail markets in general.

Overall, the report suggests that some 10 to 14 million new jobs could be created over the next five years. For example, an assumed growth of 3% over five years in the transport industry could yield 1.6 million extra jobs, while in healthcare that figure rises to nearly 2.9 million. For all 15 sectors cited, a 3% increase would lead to the creation of 11 million new jobs that would push up the EU employment rate to around 66% from its current level of 63%.

Mr Spelman, the report's senior executive sponsor, also cited the key role of small businesses in Europe. European SMEs have an average of seven employees, compared to 19 in North America, and there are about 20 million of them, he said. "So if you can get half of those people to employ just one extra person...

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