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J.P. Morgan and IPPR announce New Skills at Work in Europe $30m initiative

The initiative is an initial $30 million, three-year programme focused on addressing unemployment through macro strategies and specific innovations to boost job creation, expand labour market participation and develop the skilled workforce for the future in the UK and Europe.

The programme is the European component of JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills at Work initiative announced in Washington, DC in December, and is the largest-ever private-sector effort aimed at addressing the "skills gap" that exists across many industries globally.

“At Catch22, we work with a range of people including excluded young people and those at risk of becoming homeless. Our Office Apprenticeships Service, supported by J.P. Morgan, has helped us to put these individuals in the way of work experience and job opportunities”

New Skills at Work in Europe will initially focus its efforts on the UK, France, Germany, and Spain. In addition to IPPR, other UK partners include Catch22, Participle, Social Mobility Foundation, The Sutton Trust and TimeWise Foundation.

“At J.P. Morgan, we are committed to playing our part in contributing to growth in Europe by supporting solutions that help address the acute unemployment issue across the region and develop the skilled workforce needed to power economic recovery and growth,” said Emilio Saracho, Deputy CEO for EMEA at J.P. Morgan. “New Skills at Work in Europe will work with partners in the UK, Germany, France and Spain to share insights and take practical steps toward equipping people with the skills they need to obtain employment.”

New Skills at Work’s partners in Europe aim to address skills and employment issues, and to create greater economic opportunities in local communities. For example, TimeWise Foundation has great track record in providing career advice and support for women looking for flexible employment, particularly from low-income backgrounds through their Women Like Us programme. Catch22 is a social business focused on providing services that help people from disadvantaged backgrounds to turn their lives around. The organization worked directly with over 34,000 people in 2013, supporting a further 60,000 young people through national partnership programmes.

“At Catch22, we work with a range of people including excluded young people and those at risk of becoming homeless. Our Office Apprenticeships Service, supported by J.P. Morgan, has helped us to put these individuals in the way of work experience and job opportunities,” said Chris Wright, Chief Executive at Catch22. “Understanding the needs of the people you’re trying to serve on an individual and a family level is so important if you want to achieve success.”

The partnership and new research produced by IPPR were unveiled at the first-ever European Jobs and Skills Summit, a gathering of leading academics, business leaders, politicians, policymakers, and civil society organisations to address issues around unemployment and economic growth. The Summit was hosted jointly by J.P. Morgan and IPPR at The Royal Institute in London.

“With New Skills at Work, we as a firm are addressing the growing problem of unemployment across the globe – by investing in a demand- and data-driven system to ensure people are equipped for the jobs that are available today,” said Peter Scher, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility at JPMorgan Chase. “We’re working with great partners to build a stronger workforce and create opportunities that will boost economic growth in Europe and abroad.”

While in much of Europe the economy is recovering, unemployment remains a major problem across the continent. As part of the launch, IPPR has published a new report entitled European Jobs and Skills: A Comprehensive Review 2014. Key findings of the research show that:

The polarisation of the European workforce, in which an 18 per cent increase in the number of high-skilled jobs and a 12 per cent increase in low-skilled jobs contrasts with a 3 per cent fall in mid-skilled jobs over the last decade

One-third of Europe’s unemployment is cyclical while two-thirds (i.e. about 7% of the workforce) is structural. Unemployment across Europe is predicted to still be more than one in ten next year, and is well above its pre-crisis level in most countries

Since 2008, an extra 3 million more people across Europe now say that they would like to work longer hours, with a big increase in underemployment right across Europe. One in 10 European workers are now underemployed, with the most dramatic rises taking place in Portugal and Ireland.

Employment rates among older workers (aged 50-63) have increased, up 1.5%. Conversely, the employment rate for younger workers (under age 25) has declined 5.9%. Additionally, young people, particularly those leaving education early, may not be fully equipped with the skills and training required to gain entry into the workforce.

The decline in the proportion of the UK’s working age population in education or training during the long downturn (2007-2012) was four times greater than in any other European country. Of 24 European countries studied in the report, 15 have seen an increase in education and training participation.

“Europe’s economy is recovering but we need to ensure the fruits of that recovery are shared more widely. We are seeing that while more high skilled and low skilled jobs are being created, jobs in the middle are disappearing,” said Nick Pearce, Director at IPPR. “Employment of older people during the recession has held up, but it is becoming more difficult for younger people to find work. Underemployment – in which people are not able to work the hours they want at pay levels they need – is a growing problem. More high quality research is needed to understand and tackle such issues, which is why the New Skills at Work in Europe programme is so important.”

As announced in December, JPMorgan Chase Chairman & CEO Jamie Dimon will chair the JPMorgan Chase Global Workforce Advisory Council, which will bring together a group of private sector, non-profit, education and workforce development thought leaders to ensure the effectiveness of the effort. The Advisory Council will advise on the development, implementation and evaluation of New Skills at Work. Melody Barnes, former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, will co-chair the Council.

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