Over the past two days, the delegates from the G-7 countries and the European Union had the unique opportunity to talk about reducing the unemployment and creating jobs in our economies. It wasn't a group of academics debating in some sterile setting. It wasn't like some G-7 meetings in the past where we talked about interest rates, and stimulating economies and the like. It was the people responsible for the policies, and the politics, of jobs creation. Through four structured sessions, and in our more informal talks, we had some very frank discussions about what has worked, and what hasn't.
Let me say that we're facing tremendous change, and it is only natural that our citizens feel uneasy about change. The ministers agreed that we must offer the choice of hope over fear. We need to extract the most from change that we can. That's why it is critical that we prepare our economies, and most importantly, our people, for the challenge that awaits us in the next century.
When we discussed "The World Employment Problem," it was clear that no one is satisfied with the rate of job creation in our economies. It's a common problem, creating good jobs, with wage growth, and bringing down stubbornly high unemployment.
While there are similarities in our problem, the causes are not always the same. We took the unusual step of looking at this from a variety of angles. We looked at it from the perspective of our finance, labor, industry and social affairs ministries. We gained a better understanding of the relationship between policies. We recognized the fundamental role of the private sector in creating hobs. And, we agreed that there is no single solution, no one idea or action that will work for every country.
In our differing economies and societies, structural reforms can make a \our labor markets and employment systems far more adaptable to change. We need, carefully and in our own ways, to pursue policies to take down barriers, and to strengthen our markets. Actively anticipating and responding to labor market needs can help meet the challenge of change. Beyond that, it is important to make work more attractive than remaining unemployed or less skilled. And we need to examine ways to expand employment for the less skilled, with fairer compensation. In addition, education and training are critically important for our long-term unemployed and the disadvantaged.
In our discussion about "Creating Employment Opportunities in the Global Economy," we focused on how macro and micro economic policies can complement one another. The structural reforms in labor and social programs will be more successful if they are supported by sound macroeconomic policies that promote growth. We can produce all the highly trained, well-educated workers we want, but it does no good unless we've created the climate in which the corporate world has jobs waiting for these people. And it was clear that small and medium-sized companies need to be encouraged because of their potential for creating jobs.
We also agreed that international trade plays an important role in creating the growth. The Uruguay Round will help s stimulate jobs and growth. And ministers agreed that opening markets increases demand for goods and services, which creates job opportunities, and that closing markets hurts all our efforts to create jobs.
We also recognize that we all have a stake in the growth taking place in the developing world. It can be valuable source of job creation. To the extent we encourage flows of investment to these nations, through commercial investment vehicles and Multilateral Development Banks, we all can benefit.
Our session on "Technology, Innovation and the Private Sector" highlighted the need to ready ourselves for the challenges and opportunities of the next century.
These rapid advances in technology we are seeing, where computer chip speed seems to double every week, will make us more productive. Using technology in innovative ways, and spreading it through our economy, will multiply the benefits of that technology. And that will create more jobs. Moreover, history teaches us that jobs created by productivity gains are better paying jobs. The ministers also agreed that these new technologies, in particular information technology, have the potential to multiply our wealth. We must get that message across. And w must make certain our citizens are trained to keep up so they can tap the potential available to them. We want to be certain that no one is left behind.
The need to improve the education, training and skills of our workforces was central to our discussions. Our fourth session was titled, "Labor Markets, Investment in Human Capital, and the Social Safety Net." There was agreement that each nation needs greater investment in its people. Education must be a lifetime commitment -- on the part of the government, and the private sector, and most importantly, on the part of every individual. Governments and industry have a responsibility to make certain there is an effective transition from school -- at whatever level -- into the workforce. The private sector needs to look to retraining its existing work force. An older displaced workers whose jobs have disappeared must be given the opportunity to contribute. In addition, we must be certain we help the unemployed get back to work quickly so their job skills don't become rusty. Each individual must have a commitment to learn new skills when necessary. And it's increasingly necessary.
There was an excellent give and take. We learned from each other. We shared stories about innovative efforts from our own experiences in the hope that knowing what has worked for one nation or business might work somewhere else. Each of our countries has produced an example of their experiences, and we are making these available to you.
Our discussion here will help to frame an agenda for Naples on economic policies to deal with unemployment and job creation. We also are asking the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to examine the relationship between productivity, job creation and technology, especially information technology. And we want the OECD to expand its analysis of data on job creation and job loss. These will help our leaders, when they meet in Naples, respond to the structural changes that are remaking our economies. We also have agreed to study work practices among us. Each of us will be able to send employment experts to learn about the employment and training program of the others.
The G-7 ministers have made an important first step, very frankly trading ideas,
learning from one another. We'll take what we've learned here home to run better
programs and develop better policies. Our work here in Detroit will help our leaders --
at the Naples summit and beyond -- more clearly understand how each nation can
strengthen growth, create more jobs, better jobs, and reduce unemployment. We have
an important contribution to the global dialogue on how to lead change and manage it.
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