The Czech Republic is set to receive British assistance as it seeks to harmonise its employment policies with the European Union. On Tuesday, representatives from the employment services of both the Czech Republic and the UK unveiled the latest in a series of "Twinning" initiatives, aimed at preparing candidate countries for EU membership. Peter Smith has the story.
The "twinning" scheme will be funded by the European Union's PHARE programme at a cost of 500,000 Euros. The project aims to pair up or "twin" employment officials and civil servants in the Czech Republic with a counterpart in the UK in the hope that sharing expertise and ideas will help to harmonise labour initiatives. One of those brought in on the project is Ray Philips, the former Head of the British Employment Service. As he points out, the primary purpose of the twinning scheme is to prepare the Czech Republic for the competitive EU labour market. PHARE has also allocated resources for training Czech civil servants to administer the country's share of the EU's European Social Fund. The ESF was set up to isolate and financially support employment and re-qualification projects in the member countries - an area that - according to Mr. Phillips - has until now been neglected here in the Czech Republic. The emphasis of the project will be to train ESF administrators to provide support for the most needy and worthwhile employment initiatives here in the Czech Republic. As ever, it appears that young people will be the most likely beneficiaries. Ray Philips: