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Ministerial and Other Meetings

G8 Employment Ministers Meetings

Alan Johnson Plays Host to G8
Press Release
G8 Employment Ministers
March 11, 2005, London

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Alan Johnson played host to employment ministers from the top eight industrialised nations today, as they discussed the challenges posed by rapidly ageing populations.

The ministers got round the table in London to discuss the need to address the implications of ageing societies and how to raise employment rates, particularly for older workers.

All G8 countries will face the same situation in the coming years, with population over 65 in the UK increasing from 16 per cent in 2005 to nearly 20 per cent in 2025, from 20 to 29 in Japan; just under 19 in Germany to 24; and from just under 17 in France to nearly 23.

Mr Johnson said: "All countries need to face up to the consequences of an ageing society. A declining working age population means we need to redouble our efforts to get as many people in employment as possible so that they are able to save and plan for their retirement.

"If we take the right steps today, we can avoid problems in the future. In the UK we have one of the best labour markets in the world but we plan to go even further and are aiming for an 80 per cent employment rate, which could mean an extra one million older workers in jobs."

The G8 meeting will give employment ministers a chance to share experiences and ideas in an informal and frank way.

Britain has already come a long way to addressing the issues of ageing population, as shown by the latest international figures on employment rates for people aged 55 to 64. Britain has a 55.5 per cent rate for this age group, compared to 39 per cent for Germany; 36.8 per cent for France and 30.3 per cent for Italy.

However, we still have some way to go to catch up with the USA, which tops the table with its rate of 59.9 per cent.

Today's meeting was divided into two halves, with the morning dedicated to older workers including a presentation from Minister for Pensions Malcolm Wicks.

For many developing countries the pattern of demographic change over the next 50 years will be quite different from developed countries. So in the afternoon, ministers examined the flip side of the coin with the problems of youth unemployment faced by much of the developing world. Minister for Work and Pensions Chris Pond gave a talk and presentation on this issue.

Note to editors

1. The G8 countries are the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the USA, Canada and Japan.

2. This is the eighth time the G8 employment ministers have met. The last time they met in the UK was in 1998.

3. The format of the meeting is very informal. It is not a decision-making meeting.

Source: Government News Network (UK)

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