• The European Commission has announced that it is to spend 94.8m euros (£59.3m) on another 753 employment training projects across the EU and in Eastern Europe under the Leonardo da Vinci programme. The money will help fund the acquisition of new skills, linking educational and vocational training establishments, fighting social exclusion, promoting investment in human resources and broadening IT expertise in adults. A total of 67.8m euros (£42.4m) will be spent on pilot projects and the remaining 27m euros (£16.9m) on placement and exchange programmes.
Staff welfare high on agenda at US companies
• The best US companies make staff welfare a high priority, it has emerged. The top 100 firms identified by Fortune magazine take more steps to engage employees in the business and make quality of life for staff a priority. The finding comes in a study by the independent consultancy Hewitt Associates, which analysed the people practices of the firms.
Calls for working week to rise to 40 hours
• German heads of industry are appealing to reverse the trend towards shorter working hours and reinstate the 40-hour week. Hans Peter Stihl, president of the German Association of Chambers of Commerce, called for an increase in the working week to 40 hours to create more flexible working arrangements and improve competitiveness. His call was backed by Hermann Franzen, president of the employers' association for the retail trade. The average working week is 37.5 hours in western Germany and 39.2 hours in the east of the country.
By Philip Whiteley