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G8 Conference on Growth, Employability and Inclusion: Chairman's Conclusions

London, England, February 21-22, 1998

Ministers for economic, financial and employment issues from the G8 countries met in London on 21-22 February 1998, together with representatives from the European Commission and the ICFTU and IOE, the ILO and OECD to discuss the themes of "Growth, Employability and Inclusion".

We agreed that each country should take practical steps as appropriate to promote job creation and tackle unemployment and exclusion through policies that enable everyone to use their skills to contribute fully to their nation's economy and to share in prosperity.

Stable macroeconomic policies aimed at sustained non-inflationary growth and founded on sound public finances are vital. But stable macroeconomic policies are not enough. It is also essential to have a higher trend rate of economic growth through investment in industry, infrastructure, skills and new technology. Governments play a key role in creating the rigid environment in which investment flourishes, in particular in geographical areas and regions characterised by high levels of unemployment. Structural reforms are needed in most countries to remove barriers to the creation of jobs and to ensure that capital, product and labour markets operate efficiently, in particular to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to set up and expand. The social partners also have an important role to play, in particular in fostering adaptability and bringing about structural change.

In our countries active policies are needed in different degrees for the young and long-term unemployed and groups such as lone parents, people with disabilities, older workers and those without the basic literacy and numeracy skills needed in today's world of work. People need to be able to develop their knowledge and skills throughout their working lives and to improve their employability in a changing labour market. Programmes that encourage benefit recipients to enter or re-enter the labour market, and that make work pay, can raise employment and earnings while reducing overall benefits spending.

We recognise the important contribution made by international trade in expanding earnings and employment opportunities for workers, in an environment that fosters labour rights and education and training opportunities. We must also ensure that all segments of society, and indeed all countries across the globe, have the opportunity to share in the prosperity made possible by global integration and technological innovation. We renew our support for global progress towards the implementation of internationally recognised core labour standards, including continued collaboration between the ILO and WTO secretariats in accordance with the conclusions of the Singapore conference and the proposal for an ILO declaration and implementation mechanism on these labour standards. The crucial role of the Social Partners should be recognised in this process. Recognising that economic growth and stability are prerequisites for maintaining and expanding employment levels, we welcome the response of the international community and the leading role of the International Monetary Fund to the financial crisis in Asia by supporting essential policy reforms and providing temporary financial assistance where necessary. In this context we recognise the importance of protecting well-designed appropriate social safety nets.

We recommend the G8 Heads of State and Government meeting at Birmingham in May should adopt these seven principles to generate new job opportunities and tackle unemployment and exclusion:

sound macroeconomic policies conducive to sustained non- inflationary growth and employment;

structural reforms where needed in our labour, capital and product markets to facilitate employment growth, including promoting more effective and capital markets, tackling barriers arising from inappropriate taxation and regulatory frameworks, especially those that effect small and medium sized enterprises, and promoting adaptable, efficient and equitable working time arrangements and work organisation;

fostering entrepreneurship and creating an economic climate favourable to SMEs, in particular new businesses, including through better access to venture capital;

enhancing employment, education or training opportunities for young people and adults with the aim of preventing their becoming long-term unemployed and measures for groups such as lone parents and disabled people;

reforming tax/benefits systems to foster growth and employment and to enable and encourage those people who are unemployed or excluded from the labour market to look actively for work and find suitable employment, while protecting vulnerable groups. The successful transition from welfare to work will require a sustained commitment to active labour market policies, including training and vocational guidance, and to addressing the underlying reasons for exclusion from the labour market;

enabling and encouraging people to learn throughout their working lives - lifelong learning - to develop their knowledge and skills and to improve their employability; and

promoting equal opportunities and combatting discrimination for all workers.

We noted that much progress has already been made by the G8 countries in pursuing this agenda but that all countries need to take further steps in at least some of these areas, with the active involvement of employers and unions.

We have committed our Governments to presenting Action Plans by the next G8 Summit in Birmingham in May which will set out how we are turning these principles into practice. The results of the G8 Conference, together with those of the Kobe Jobs Conference, will make a valuable contribution to the Summit's success.

Source: United Kingdom. Her Majesty's Treasury. Press release, February 22, 1998.

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