Antonopoulou: Greece seeing steady improvement in jobless and employment rate

reece is seeing a steady improvement as regards the reduction of unemployment – now fallen to 21.1 pct – and, more importantly, an increase in employment, but there was still no room for complacency, Alternate Employment Minister Rania Antonopoulou told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency in an interview on Sunday.

Antonopoulou was in Vienna for the international conference “Back to Work Now” to talk about the planning and so far good results of next-generation community work programmes for the older long-term unemployed and local communities. The programmes were highlighted by the conference organisers as one of the “best practices” in Europe.

The minister said that the government’s policies for boosting employment have brought results. These include support programmes for the unemployed and training programmes that, for the first time in Greece, are based on a mechanism for diagnosing market needs and lead to 35 pct of participants going on to find a job, compared to a European average of 20 pct.

She said the government was taking a three-pronged approach to helping the jobless return to the labour market: support of wage and non-wage costs, so that businesses can more easily hire staff, development of skills and improving the knowledge level of the workforce and planning to support the long-term unemployed and especially those aged over 50.

Antonopoulou rejected criticism that the government was failing to make full use of European funds available to Greece, saying this was misinformation spread by the opposition parties. In reality, she added, Greece ranks among the top countries for absorption of EU funds with a percentage of 11.35 pct overall, while the labour ministry’s percentage was 23.5 pct.