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Ponta Delgada ,  November 25, 2011

Rui Bettencourt defends the relevance of Regions' role in active employment policies

"European Regions should now take on a new and innovative role in active employment policies," stressed the Regional Director for Labour, Vocational Training and Consumer Defence, who is also responsible for the European Social Fund of the Regional Government and Secretary-General of Eurodyssey.

In this context, the Regional Director reminded the President's of the Government's call:"Think Regional. Act Regional. Make Europe go ahead."

Rui Bettencourt spoke during the event dedicated to "Innovation Employment Policy: an asset for a regional approach," a roundtable with European experts on social policies innovation, held in Ponta Delgada on Friday in the context of the General Assembly of the Assembly of European Regions - Azores 2011. The government official even considered that "vocational training and employment policies, structured as regional policies, may prove effective at this level, thus becoming central policies in the regional development project."

According to the Regional Director for Labour, Vocational Training and Consumer Protection, employment depends on a "multiplicity of factors", which may be divided into three groups: motivation, context and skills. The importance of each of these aspects also depends on the "moment when employment policies are implemented, the characteristics of the region and the development of the project implemented."

At this time, employment is being undermined by "a series of factors: financial, economic and the confidence of investors and consumers."

Mentioning the specific case of the Azores, Rui Bettencourt stated that the Region has reflected on its employment policies and considered the "weaknesses in the area of skills as a risk factor for unemployment." Hence, the Region "has largely invested in the initial training" of the Azorean population.

"It is not by chance that of every three thousand youngsters entering into the labour market annually, two thousand have vocational training courses and among this group there are less than 200 unemployed youngsters.

"Fortunately we have been investing in people, otherwise the Azores, with roughly the same population as Madeira (245 thousand inhabitants in the Azores and 246 in Madeira) would not have 8,300 unemployed but 18 thousand as Madeira, the government official added, stressing that a difference of "10 thousand unemployed makes a significant difference."

In this context, he explained that monitoring strategies were introduced in order to follow those who annually enter into the labour market. Additional strategies were developed for the unemployed, to enhance their employability, workers, to maintain their employability, and the inactive population in order to promote its entry into the labour market.

Rui Bettencourt said that "we must integrate the inevitable and permanent dynamics of the labour market", being for sure that our assurance in terms of employment lies in the possibility that our skills be as flexible as the skills demands of the labour market."

The Regional Director also added that "in addition to the current difficult context, this aspect poses major difficulties to the public employment policies, but it is also where "we find the most interesting challenges of these policies."

The Assembly of European Regions is made up by 270 regions from 34 countries and 16 interregional organisations.

The Assembly of European Regions was created in 1985, of which the Azores are a founding member.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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