It is a great honour to be here today and to be able to represent Polish employers.
In a brief address, I would like to focus on two topics. One is the situation in the Polish labour market. The second, following the schedule of this year's session of the Conference, is the evolution of labour laws and forms of employment.
The situation in the Polish labour market is still not satisfactory. Unemployment is, without a doubt, the most urgent social problem at present, with an unemployment level reaching 18 per cent, one of the highest in Europe. The high level of unemployment is accompanied by a low employment level, which is also very alarming.
The two things that Polish employers find most problematic on the labour market are low levels of flexibility and high non-wage labour costs. The research carried out by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, published in this year's Report, confirms that the high labour costs are the main obstacle to the reduction of unemployment in Poland. Moreover, the non-wage labour costs in Poland are among the highest in Europe.
These high costs mean that, in spite of the low pay received by employees, the real cost for the employer is very high. In our opinion, reducing labour costs is justified and desired from both the economic and social points of view. It will be an impetus to creating new jobs and, at the same time, it will contribute to reducing the black economy.
An appropriate way to raise employment and create new jobs is through economic development, and for that we need brave reforms aimed at decreasing non-wage labour costs and removing barriers to running an enterprise.
Paradoxically, high unemployment is accompanied by a lack of manpower in some sectors. Some trades are already struggling with this problem. It has become particularly urgent in the face of the opening of European borders to workers from Poland. Many specialists have left Poland in search of higher earnings abroad. Polish employers support migration and opening borders. We believe that no artificial legal barriers will keep specialists in our homeland. Now, it is important to create conditions in order for these persons to return, richer in new knowledge and experience.
This "new" situation - the lack of specialists - shows the necessity to rearrange the Polish education system, which in its present form does not meet the demands of the labour market, and, in our opinion, employers should have a share in these changes.
The difficult situation in the labour market also requires finding a way to include in the lab-our market those most in danger of exclusion: women, young persons and persons aged over 55.
Flexible forms of employment provide a possibility for these groups to return to the labour market. In Poland, such forms of employment are still rarely exploited, unlike in other European Union countries, such as Denmark and the United Kingdom, where the participation of workers in atypical forms of employment is the greatest.
A globalizing economy and growing competition force enterprises to be flexible and to adapt their level of employment to their current needs. Of course, this employment, for example in the form of temporary work, is not as stable as a traditional employment contract, but labour laws aimed at the creation of a modern labour market should balance the interests of working persons and jobseekers.
In our opinion, the best policy for the labour market is to promote an entrepreneurial attitude and not to build barriers and obstacles for enterprises. This is essential so that labour laws do not render employment difficult, in particular the employment of those most in danger of exclusion from the labour market, since the exaggerated protection of this group and badly designed policies in the field often produce an opposite effect to that desired.