Business-related services for the creation of employment
The European Commission has published an open call for tender for studies to assess the role of business-related services (BRSs)in the development and direct/indirect creation of employment in the context of industrial change. The Treaty on European Union endowed the European Social Fund (ESF) with a new mission, namely to facilitate the adaptation of workers "to industrial changes and to changes in production systems, in particular through vocational training and retraining" (Article 123). At the same time, the importance of successfully addressing economic change, in the battle against unemployment, was also reflected in the European Commission's White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment (December 1993). The policy message across the Union, and indeed beyond, is "adapt and survive". Research to date, both within and outside the European Commission, has underlined the strategic importance of BRSs within the adaptation process. Their function is to improve competitiveness, and thereby to promote employment. Over the past 15 years, the BRS sector has been one of the fastest growing sectors of activity in Europe, as well as being one of the most heterogeneous. The focus of the studies will be on issues of employment and qualification in BRSs, and on the economic, regional, sectoral and institutional contexts in which BRSs operate. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The studies will be carried out in a representative selection of Member States. The studies will establish the role of BRSs within direct/indirect employment creation and development. The general objective of these studies is to contribute to the definition of policy guidelines for the actions cofinanced by the ESF, in the adaptation to industrial change, and to identify the conditions for implementing these actions efficiently. Three studies will be carried out: - BRSs and the reorganization of production, implying changing the relative content of services in manufactured products. From a descriptive/analytical point of view, this means: . Improving the description and definition of BRS subsectors; . Clarifying, harmonizing and developing BRS statistics. From a prospective point of view, this means: . Identifying the BRS subsectors which are likely to develop at relatively higher rates of growth and employment (direct/indirect), and the sectors to which these relate; . Carrying out research into which qualifications are required to accompany BRS evolution; . Researching the externalization/internalization of services (magnitude, types of services concerned in different sectors, factors behind these movements, net effect on employment). - BRSs and competitiveness. This is a comparative study on the role of BRSs in promoting competitive SME development. Within this context, information is sought on: . Those services which are required by firms to improve their survival rate; . The role of BRSs in the diffusion of: - Innovation (organizational/technical); - Management expertise on human resource development, finance, marketing; . Externalization vs. internalization. - BRSs and local/regional development. This study will carry out activities to: . Identify the role of BRSs in the organization of the regional economy and its markets; to understand the economic and institutional context in which they operate; . Study the role of networks and the diffusion of innovation, in order to optimize the intervention of public/private and non-governmental organization partnerships vis-a-vis: - Employment development; - Training supply; - Skills development and forecasting; - Technology; - Networking. . Study the socio-economic impact of advanced communications technology/services on BRSs in order to: - Identify the possibilities of future developments and the employment and qualification impact; - Provide policy recommendations on facilitating the adaptation, principally through training and retraining; - Carry out a comparative assessment of the extent to which (and how) BRS subsectors, and associated economic sectors, make use of advanced communications technology/services in the context of distance working. The terms of reference for the studies may be requested from: European Commission Directorate-General V "Employment, Industrial Relations and Social Affairs" Unit V/B/5 "Adaptation to Industrial Change" Mr. Olivier Rouland 200 rue de la Loi (RP11, 7/17) B-1049 Brussels Tel. +32-2-2966218; Fax +32-2-2969771 The tenders must be submitted to the address provided in the terms of reference.