On 7 September, the European Commission published its EU Care Strategy. This important document calls for sustainable and sufficient funding, good working conditions, gender equality and work-life balance for social services workers, to make the sector more resilient and attractive. The Federation of European Social Employers welcomes this new initiative and calls for action.
In a context of demographic changes, with an ageing population and the increase of care demand, the strategy will help on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights on the principle of accessible, affordable and good quality care services. The Commission stated: “More than 1.6 million long-term care workers would have to be added by 2050 to keep long-term care coverage at the same level”, highlighting its potential in terms of employment.
The Strategy acknowledges the importance of social dialogue and collective bargaining to improve working conditions and the need to develop EU level social dialogue in the care sector. To this end, the Commission confirms it will, “together with social partners, continue to explore the modalities for the setting up of a new sectoral social dialogue for social services at EU level”. The Social Employers and EPSU now expect a prompt answer to their joint application.
It also promotes better work-life balance, highest standards of occupational health and safety and continuously upskilling and reskilling, key to improve working conditions and the image of the sector and thus recruit and retain the workforce. In this sense, the Strategy echoes the Social Employers and EPSU demands already collected in their joint position paper “A European Care Strategy must address workforce needs and challenges”.
The Strategy includes two proposals for Council Recommendations. The first one is on long-term-care (LTC) to address challenges by improving the access to high-quality and affordable services. The second recommendation is on early childhood education and care (ECEC), which focuses on the revision of the Barcelona targets about access to childcare.
On the day the Commission published its Strategy, the FORESEE project partners released their new report assessing the challenges and presenting good practices to reinforce the sector’s attractiveness across Europe.
On 9 September, the Social Employers also shared its first reactions on the EU Care Strategy during a Webinar, together with other EU level stakeholders; MEPs and the Deputy director of DG EMPL. The Social Employers highlighted the importance of sustainable and sufficient funding, seen as an investment and the crucial role of social dialogue and collective bargaining at national and EU level to improve working conditions, develop qualifications and training, as well as career paths, to improve the attractiveness of the sector.
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