Eurofound News June 2007

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News in pictures

Robert Anderson and Gerhard NaegeleRobert Anderson, research coordinator of Eurofound’s Living Conditions team, speaks at a conference on ‘Demographic change as opportunity: The economic potential of the elderly’. The conference was organised by the German Ministry for Social Affairs in Berlin on 17–18 April under the auspices of the German EU Presidency. On the left is conference rapporteur Gerhard Naegele of the University of Dortmund.

News in brief

Social capital vital for rural development

Profound changes are affecting rural Europe: farm jobs are disappearing, younger, educated people (especially women) are migrating to the cities, and the rural population is ageing. A new report from Eurofound, Social capital and job creation in rural Europe, identifies social capital as a vital resource for rural development and job creation. Social capital is the term used to describe how people interact in networks – such as local authorities, businesses, NGOs or clubs – and so build trust and communication locally. Previously, rural policy focused exclusively on the agricultural sector; now, the focus is shifting to include forestry, tourism and service industries at regional level. Stressing that local decision-making is crucial, the report presents detailed case studies of social capital initiatives that have resulted in job creation. It highlights challenges and makes practical recommendations on fostering the conditions to encourage social capital-based rural development.

Download the report

Out-of-school childcare benefits families

The provision of out-of-school childcare can benefit both parents and children substantially. A recent study from Eurofound, looking at childcare for children aged five to 12, finds that the provision of such childcare can help parents take up employment, improve their financial situation, balance work and home life, reduce their stress levels, increase their confidence and improve their social interaction. Children benefit through better educational attainment, greater social development opportunities, better health, a safe, secure environment and from the improved household finances. Eurofound research manager Gerlinde Ziniel will chair a workshop on developments in out-of-school childcare in disadvantaged areas of Europe at a conference entitled ‘Opportunity for all: The challenge for social and health services in a diverse Europe’, organised by the German presidency in Berlin on 18–20 June.

Download the executive summary

Social dialogue in shipbuilding restructuring

Member States that have invested heavily in their shipbuilding and ship repair industries are facing increased global competition, resulting in cyclical fluctuations in demand. Becoming sufficiently flexible to respond to such fluctuations without losing essential skills and expertise presents a challenge. A new study from Eurofound’s European Centre on Monitoring Change (EMCC), commissioned at the request of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee of the shipbuilding and ship repair industries, finds that those countries in which the government brings the social partners together to cooperate in creating solutions have the most innovative and successful outcomes: product diversification, flexible working-time arrangements, reorganising production processes, and raising workers’ skills levels through training schemes. The combination of social dialogue and internal measures may lessen the impact of any outsourcing carried out in order to externalise the risks of fluctuating demand.

Download the report

Focus on working conditions in Belgium and France

Work–life balance, working time and job satisfaction levels will be top of the agenda when Eurofound presents findings and analysis from its recent fourth European Working Conditions Survey in Belgium. During the visit to Brussels on 15 June, Eurofound experts will meet with representatives of government, employer organisations, trade unions, civil society and academia. The visit is part of Eurofound’s series of national roadshows, aimed at facilitating closer collaboration with its stakeholders and showcasing recent Eurofound research, data and recommendations. A Eurofound speaker will also present findings from the survey at an event organised by the French national outreach centre in Paris on 27 June.

Read more about future Eurofound events

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