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  • Press conference on the outcomes of the Joint G20 Finance and Labour Ministers Meeting

Press conference on the outcomes of the Joint G20 Finance and Labour Ministers Meeting

Following the Joint G20 Finance and Labour Ministers Meeting, the Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and the Russian Minister of Labour and Social Protection Maxim Topilin presented the main outcomes of the meeting at a press conference.

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Anton Siluanov: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Today we have held the first ever Joint G20 Finance and Labour Ministers Meeting on boosting employment and economic growth.

In fact, the issues that our ministries deal with are very similar, and this was stated at today's meeting - employment issues are certainly related to economic issues. Economic growth, influx of investment and creation of new jobs - these things are all interconnected in one way or another. If we, who are responsible at the Finance Ministry for the preconditions for economic growth - low inflation, creation of favourable conditions at the financial market for investors, reasonable fiscal policy - are successful, this will eventually lead to employment issues being resolved. Today we discussed this at length.

We also talked about the need to strengthen the role of governments in resolving the employment issues. These include creation of the right conditions for economic growth, and right incentives for small businesses, because it is this sector that has a significant number of employees, it is the most portable, it can attract significant labour resources and provide a significant contribution to the economy and GDP growth. Therefore, the issue of the developing of small and medium-sized enterprises was among the key issues that we discussed today.

We also talked about the fact that on the whole the G20 countries had assumed obligations to promote employment as part of the so-called Framework Agreement. These include Russia, which has committed itself to reducing unemployment and creating new, high-performance jobs. Therefore, the commitments that countries have undertaken as part of the Framework Agreement need to be implemented, and their implementation must be monitored.

In our view, today's first Joint Meeting was a success. We noted common views and approaches. We had differing points of view and disagreements, which is typical for G20 Finance Ministers meetings, but there were no such policy disputes with respect to labour and employment among the Labour Ministers. We faced common challenges as a united front.

Maxim Topilin: Mr. Siluanov said that we discussed the issues of interconnectedness of our policies to support growth and the labour markets. And, of course, for us it was very encouraging that all countries shared a common understanding that without strong economic growth and stimulation of economic growth, without creation of high quality jobs, hardly is it possible to achieve positive results in terms of employment.

On the other hand, the contribution of measures aimed at fostering economic growth in the employment issues cannot go separately from measures to support the labour market, namely, re-training for the unemployed, development of small businesses and self-employment through micro-loans for the unemployed and underemployed. The more targeted and precise the employment programs are, the fewer additional resources they require, and the more effective they are on an individual basis.

All countries see employment programs as a necessary tool aiming not to create temporary jobs, overcome difficulties just temporarily, and to give people the opportunity to work for a limited time - no. When employment policies and measures implemented by the Labour Ministry achieve their intended results - we see a positive outcome, when a person has a permanent contract and can bring his or her family an income on a permanent basis. This means that economic growth and efficient policies of the Finance Ministries, on the one hand, and better performance of the Labour Ministries on the other, can yield a mutually acceptable result.

What I would particularly like to point out is that we also raised issues related to different methods of support, and came to the similar viewpoint - different categories of workers that must be supported and retained at the labour market require different methods of assistance. The long-term unemployed are one thing. There are training programs for them, job search programs and so on. But there are certain categories of people - first of all, people with disabilities - who require specific financial support in terms of equipping their workplaces. Here all countries shared their experiences, and we also described the programs implemented by Russia - special programs that are financed from the federal budget. We set out to create nearly 15,000 jobs each year for the disabled, and the issue is being resolved with the direct support from the state and the federal budget. We also discussed why it is important not only for the state but also for the business community to participate in these processes - small businesses, large businesses, private employment agencies. There has to be a consolidation of efforts in order to achieve the most effective results, building on the resources from budgets and from private entrepreneurs. Thank you.

Anton Siluanov: I would also like to mention that we discussed the issue of the quality of education, because we have large budgetary expenditures allocated for education, and the returns have not always been that effective in recent years. Many countries have confronted this.

Take Russia, for example. About 30% of graduates in Russia do not obtain employment in their mastered fields, and the figure is even higher for certain higher education institutions. Clearly enough, effective use of budgetary funds is a big issue in this regard. If the government spends resources on education of the young people, and then it is not getting skilled labour - there is an inefficient use of resources. On the other hand, it was concluded that programs for retraining the employed were among the most effective solutions for improving employment. Occupational mobility and retraining for new professions are also one of the most effective methods of promoting employment. These facts have been acknowledged by the majority of countries.

Maxim Topilin: I also have a couple of points to add. We considered such cases of our member countries, where unemployment is high and governments introduce measures to subsidise employment. Let us think of the young people, who graduate from educational institutions and cannot find work, so in some countries employment for them is subsidised by governments in some way. That is exactly what we have already. First, we spend money on education, and then we spend more money to subsidise jobs for the young people.

In general, young people, in my opinion - I think everyone agrees - should be more proactive and perhaps even more aggressive at the labour market - in order to acquire knowledge, to find attractive jobs and compete for these jobs, compete primarily basing on their knowledge and their ability to yield good results. And when we first get poor results in education, and then still have to allocate additional resources to support employment - this is definitely inefficient.

To give an opposite example, we considered the experience of Germany, the very country that uses a so-called dual education system, where young people get on-the-job training. Companies work in advance with universities and create jobs for their graduates. Then this issue is resolved - internships and work experience, acquiring skills, and familiarity with the employer occur during training, and there is no problem of post-education secondary financing. We need to strive for the solutions of this kind, and we in Russia are also trying to promote similar techniques.

Full video of the press conference you can find here (only Russian version)

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