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Government aims to further increase labour activity rate

Hungary's government aims to further increase its "already record-high" labour activity rate to 85 percent over the coming years, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Budapest on Thursday.

The government has created a million jobs since 2010, bringing the labour activity rate to 75 percent, Szijjarto told a joint press conference with International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo, according to a ministry statement. But, he added, recent crises and threats had resulted in severe economic challenges.

Szijjarto said the pandemic and the war in Ukraine had both upset the global economy, making job protection a serious challenge.

He noted 14 years ago the government had put forward a plant to create a labour-based society based on the principle that everyone who wants to work should be able to.

“And this is what we’ve had to protect twice over the last five years, and the good news is that we managed to protect Hungarian jobs twice…” Szijjarto said.

He said Hungary was one of just a few countries where the employment rate in the post-pandemic period exceeded pre-pandemic levels thanks to the government’s investment promotion and job protection strategy.

Szijjarto said that to reach a labour activity rate of 85 percent, Hungary needed more investment, needed to mobilise its domestic labour market reserves and intensify cooperation between the education sector and economic players.

He noted that Hungary has been a member of the ILO for 102 years and has recently been re-elected into its Governing Body. He welcomed that the organisation operates its regional office in Budapest with more than 30 staff members.

Szijjarto said that at their meeting he and Houngbo had touched on two security crises that required important job protection and creation efforts from the international community.

One of these crises, he said, was the European refugee crises triggered by the war in Ukraine. He insisted that Hungary had welcomed more than 1.3 million refugees since the start of the war and the government has been supporting businesses that employ refugees who choose to stay in the country.

Szijjarto said the other crisis was the migration crisis, emphasising the seriousness of projections of Africa’s significant population growth over the coming decades.

“This is why it’s important for the international community to implement a comprehensive economic development strategy in Africa, so that African countries are able to provide jobs for the growing population,” the minister said. “Because if … we can’t create enough jobs in Africa, there can be two possible consequences: either the greatest migration crisis of all time, or one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of all time.”

“We want to avoid both, and we will continue to pursue the strongest possible cooperation with the ILO in order to be successful at these tasks,” Szijjarto said.

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