Here are three proposals that could create jobs and jumpstart the economy, by reducing friction in the European market.
First. Make English an additional official language in each EU country.
The main obstacle to full employment is not skills. It is mismatch. 25 million people in the EU are unemployed. Half of young Spaniards and Greeks have no job, a quarter of young Italians and French. They are the best educated generation ever – and they cannot transform their knowledge into valuable skills.
At the same time northern Europe needs millions of young professionals to replace retiring babyboomers.
The obvious solution is to bring demand and supply together. This can only happen when companies hire professionals in English – and allow them to learn the local language “on the job”. HR managers are often extremly risk averse. They will only start hiring English speaking foreigners, if the government sets an example.
We are all European citizens – therefore we should be allowed to communicate in English in every government agency in Europe.
My colleagues and I work hard to provide professionals with job opportunities that fit their skills. So far only smart employers took full advantage of international talent. Professionals should be able to get any job anywhere as long as they are qualified. It must become normal to start working in English and to learn the local language on the way.
Second. Encourage professionals to become freelancers
Our working habits change. Employment is seen as a “normal” form of work by the older generation. But it is in fact an anomaly. Only in the industrial age (ca. 1850-1980) were most professionals employed. The industrial age also brought us the “one size fits all” education and standardized, uniform jobs.
This time has come to an end. The future is very fluid. Demands shift constantly – and most professionals will work project based.
This is not a threat – but an opportunity. Paying professionals for results, instead of “time spend” will set individuals free. It will allow them to fit work better into their lives, instead of adjusting their lives to the work demands. This will also help the weaker economies in southern Europe: A young Spaniard can gain work experience and contacts with an employer in Germany – and then decide to move back to Spain and work as a freelancer for his German clients.
The Individual, The northern clients and the southern countries: All benefit.
Third. Provide all professionals with the same social security
More professionals would choose to become their own bosses, if they were guaranteed the same social security as employees and government employees. If freelancers knew their health, pension and the nursing care insurance were covered: Which benefit would employment still have?
Or, rather: What would hold them back from starting “their own thing” and work and live as they like?
Also: The social security system should be organised by the European Union and not by the member states. Todays professionals will work all over Europe, before they settle in a certain city.
You may have noticed that I didn’t include “job security” in the list above. That’s because I believe job security is a mirage. Just look at the long list of huge and impressive corporations that went bust in the last ten years. From “Lehman Brothers” to “Schlecker”: Having a boss is not reducing the risk of losing your income – it is just obscuring it.
Fourth. Improve income for low skill workers.
I believe in exceeding expectations. Here is my fourth suggestion. People with lower education deserve a decent lifestyle as much as the better offs. They work hard, but earn low money. At the same time their jobs are under constant threat by automation. We can improve their income and reduce labour cost at the same time: If we take out the “invisible third” in the calculation. The government.
In Germany even people who earn minimum wage, have to pay 38% of their income to the government. Health, unemployment insurance, pensions: These social costs make up most of government spendings: And they are paid mainly by low and medium incomes. (While government employees and freelancers don’t contribute).
I propose that we keep social security, but finance it differently. Social security should be equal for employees, freelancers and government employees. And it should be financed by a tax on companies’ turnover. This way the cost of labour would drop dramatically, reducing the obstacles for startups to hire staff. Low and medium earners would have substantially more net income. And: Social and retirement payments would be secure – also for the younger generations. Because a tax on companies’ turnover is de facto a tax on GDP.
About Chris Pyak
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