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European Edition
19th September 2023
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Labour shortages pose challenges for rural German companies
Small and medium-sized companies in rural areas of Germany are facing significant challenges due to labour shortages. As young people move from the countryside to cities, rural areas are experiencing an even more rapid aging population. To attract workers, rural regions need to appeal not only to urban residents but also to migrants. However, migrant workers may be hesitant to move to areas with uncertain career prospects and a less diverse population. Local universities play a crucial role in recruiting foreign graduates, as they can attract them to stay in the region after completing their degrees. While large global companies have the resources to recruit skilled workers internationally, small companies must develop their own approaches. Bernd Richter, owner of Richter lighting, emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and offers free German lessons to employees. The mayor of Heubach, Joy Alemazung, aims to create an accepting environment for immigrants in the town. Despite the challenges, some workers, like Kunjan Patel, are satisfied with the lifestyle and opportunities offered in rural Germany.
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Immigrants in Finland find jobs directly with employers, study shows
Immigrants in Finland have better job prospects when they apply directly to employers, according to a study by public health authority THL. The report also found that immigrants often secure employment through acquaintances. However, those who look for work through employment services or private recruitment agencies face frustrating experiences. The study also highlighted regional and gender-based factors that affect immigrants' job search success. Extensive cooperation is needed to improve attitudes towards working life and the provision of services. The study was based on survey data collected by THL and funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund AMIF. "Employment is an important factor in terms of integration. We must pay attention to each of the different avenues to ensure smoother access to employment. Creating equality in the job market, regardless of background, is essential," said researcher Manu Jalonen.
1.3m students face school closures as teachers and staff go on strike in Portugal
Around 1.3 million students in Portugal face potential school closures as teachers and staff go on strike. The Union of All Education Professionals (S.T.O.P) has called for a week-long strike to protest against injustices in the sector. The strike, the first of the 2023/2024 school year, aims to recover frozen service time and address other grievances. The professionals vow to continue last year's protest until their demands are met. "At stake is the recovery of six years, six months, and 23 days of frozen service time, but also a set of other injustices felt by teaching and non-teaching staff," said the article.
Santander to close Italian branches and cut workforce
The Italian consumer credit unit of Santander is set to close all branches in Italy and reduce the local workforce by 14%, according to a banking union. The move comes as customers increasingly choose digital channels over physical branches. Santander Consumer Bank Italy confirmed the plan, stating that compulsory redundancies may follow. The bank aims to minimise job cuts where possible. Representatives from Santander Consumer Bank and unions will meet to discuss the restructuring plan. Around 100 workers at the bank's local offices and headquarters in Italy will be affected by the staff reduction.
Société Générale to spend €100m to close gender pay gap
Société Générale has announced plans to spend €100m over the next two years to close its gender pay gap. The French bank is unusual in publicly allocating a budget and pledging to spend it. The money will be used to boost the remuneration of female employees in the same or similar roles as men, where there is no reasonable explanation for a discrepancy. The bank also announced a target of having 35% of senior leadership roles held by women by 2026. SocGen's 2022 gender pay gap report in the UK showed a median pay gap of 26.2% for hourly pay, higher than the average UK employer but lower than the average across 20 of the biggest finance firms.
GMC accused of ideologically-driven denial of women
The UK's General Medical Council has updated its guidance for employees who become pregnant, replacing female-specific language with gender-neutral terms throughout. A maternity document for staff, seen by the Telegraph, has removed all mention of “mothers”, substituting the term “surrogate mother” with phrases like “surrogate parent” for example. The GMC’s internal menopause policy document has also been updated and is stripped of references to women. Heather Welford from With Woman, a group of midwives and other maternity clinicians activists, said: “The decision by the GMC to obscure the fact that only women have babies is ideologically driven, medically inaccurate and unhelpful to women and babies. For medical professionals, the sex of a person is salient to their health care. Reputable organisations such as the GMC should not be changing language on a population level to pander to ideologically driven pressure groups.”
Employees in audiovisual media to complete online course to counter cross-border behaviour
Employees in the Dutch audiovisual media sector will be required to complete an online course from next year as part of the Media Pact for Respectful Cooperation. The aim is to introduce online training in all audiovisual media companies by January 2024. The course is designed to increase knowledge and understanding within the industry and address undesirable behavior in the workplace. The media pact, which includes major media companies such as RTL and Talpa Network, was formed in response to incidents of assaultive behavior in the industry. The media companies themselves will be responsible for ensuring that all employees complete the course. The training sessions will be evaluated over the year. The media pact will hold an annual event to review progress and plans related to the pact. Mariëtte Hamer, the government's commissioner for cross-border behavior, will attend the event. Reporting by ANP.
Two arrested in Arnhem for supplying airplane parts to russia in defiance of sanctions
Two people have been arrested in Arnhem in Holland for supplying airplane parts to Russia in defiance of international sanctions. The first arrest involved a 53-year-old man and resulted in the seizure of computers, cash, aircraft parts, weapons, and ammunition. The second arrest followed a day later and involved a 48-year-old man who works for the ministry of defence. Both men are suspected of circumventing sanctions by exporting aircraft parts to Russia. The investigation also led to the seizure of ammunition, computers, and admin. The defence ministry worker involved in the case is Michael H, owner of a company named Marine Aerospace. Both men have been remanded in custody for 60 days.
Google parent Alphabet lays off employees from global recruiting team
Google parent Alphabet is laying off employees from its global recruiting team as the tech giant continues to slow hiring. The company's decision to let go of a few hundred employees is not part of a wide-scale layoff and will retain a significant majority of the team for hiring critical roles. It will also help the workers search for roles within the company and elsewhere. Alphabet is the first “Big Tech” company to lay off employees this quarter, after peers like Meta, Microsoft and Amazon downsized aggressively earlier in 2023 as a weak economy put an end to their pandemic-led hiring sprees. California-based Alphabet cut about 12,000 jobs in January, reducing its workforce by 6%. Layoffs in the U.S. rose more than threefold in August from July and nearly fourfold compared with a year ago, according to a report by employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
UK considers AI regulations to address deepfake concerns
Britain is considering regulations for artificial intelligence (AI) companies to address concerns about deepfake photos and system failures. Ofcom, the UK regulator, is reviewing ways to limit harm caused by AI as it prepares to enforce the Online Safety Bill. The legislation covers search engines, social media, and pornography, which are likely to use AI technology. Ofcom is exploring audits of AI models, red teaming tests, and digital labelling of deepfakes. The regulator is also researching technology to distinguish between real and deepfake images. 

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