WITH less than a week to go before official unemployment figures for December are finally known, the Balearic government is confident that the dole queue in the Balearics will not reach 95'000 by year end, let alone 100'000, regional Minister for Employment and Tourism Joana Barceló said yesterday. “We certainly won't see 100'000 people officially registered as unemployed by year end,” claimed Barcelo, who is also the Balearic government spokesperson, “and we won't even reach the 95'000 mark.” The Minister, speaking at a presentation of measures the government will be taking in February next year to promote jobs for young people and the long-term unemployed said however, that “caution” should be exercised prior to the official figures being published at month end.

Barcelo gave assurances that jobs were being created in the Balearic labour market but not enough to compensate the growth in the working population in the Islands. “We're gradually gaining ground, but it's going to be an uphill struggle,” admitted the Minister.

She said that in a community where employment history was inextricably linked with the Service industry such as in the Balearic Islands, there was always room for growth but within the confines of seasonal demand.

Barcelo explained that companies in the Balearic Islands are bringing people from outside to do their work which is why the figures for an actively employed population is on the increase. “Such business activity is creating employment,” she said “but it's not enough to provide work for all those without jobs.” She said that the challenge facing the region is to provide local people sufficiently qualified for the demands of business. The President of the Balearic Islands, Francesc Antich has publicly defended his government policy of retraining the long term unemployed. “There are plenty of people,” he said yesterday “coming to the Islands from elsewhere and in the meantime there is a queue of unemployed already here who can't get the jobs because they're not qualified.” Barceló said that matching up the needs of the Service sector and the abilities of people on the dole queue is not going to be easy. Many people currently without jobs, said the Minister were formerly in the construction industry but it is the Service sector which is looking for qualified personnel.

The construction industry is the sector which has been most badly affected by the economic crisis, not just in the Balearics but across Spain as a whole.

She pointed to the regional government's creation last year of the so-called “Professional Certificate” which recognises the abilities of those who have trained to reach a certain level in a a particular field of industry.

The Minister pointed out that with an increasingly ageing population, the government's recently introduced Dependency Law which guarantees publicly funded protection to the elderly and infirm, there will be a professional demand for carers both within residential and private homes.

Another area in which the Balearic government has introduced measures to stimulate employment is in pre-school “kindergarten” facilities. The government has aimed to create jobs by officially incorporating infant education as part of the school curricula.