Davos leaders fear surge in unemployed

GLOBAL unemployment will be at the top of the agenda at Davos this year, with one official of the World Economic Forum warning that the biggest danger for 2011 is the possibility of a “jobless recovery”.

The warning comes as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a UN body, announced yesterday that worldwide unemployment has stayed stubbornly high at 205m during 2010. The ILO also forecast that the number will fall by less than one per cent during 2011. The figure means that there are now 27.6m more people without jobs than in 2007 before the crisis hit.

Delegates at Davos will discuss the threat of ongoing joblessness this morning at an event entitled: “The West isn’t working”, held by Manpower, an employment consultancy and main sponsor of the WEF.

Jeffrey Joerres, chairman and chief executive of Manpower, will blame western educational systems for not being “aligned with the needs of the world of work”.

“Industry and educational institutions must work together more constructively and governments need to target funding in the right areas,” he says. “Companies, governments and educators all have a responsibility to get this right.”

World leaders are particularly nervous that stubborn unemployment could combine with skyrocketing commodity prices to create conditions ripe for widespread civil unrest. President Barack Obama has come under heavy fire ahead of his first State of the Union address for failing to boost job creation: US unemployment currently stands at 9.4 per cent.

Europe is in even worse straits. And the economist Nouriel Roubini, who is due to speak at a CNBC breakfast in Davos this morning, has warned that the UK in particular has a “whiff of stagflation” about it, saying it is “already double dipping while inflation is rising.”

Youth unemployment in the UK is already on a par with general unemployment in Spain, with both now at 20 per cent.