Decent work and quality jobs for young people A collection of articles on the employment situation and working conditions of young people in Ireland, Italy and Denmark.
INDEX Foreword Young People Not in Employment, Education or Training Ireland Italy Denmark
1 2 4 10 13
This collection of articles has been developed as part of the project “Decent work for European youth – active methods and best practices” supported by the European Commission’s DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the author and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. Youth Job Patrol aims to promote the participation of young people in industrial relations (that is to say in the employer-employee relationship and social dialogue) by helping them to get informed about their rights and discuss working conditions in their workplaces through social media. With high levels of youth unemployment and the declining quality of employment available for young people, this European network is being created to encourage young people to get more actively involved in demanding decent working conditions in their jobs and thereby stressing the necessity, relevance, and benefits of the engagement of young people in industrial relations. The project consortium consists of organisations and team members who have a long-lasting experience in developing and sharing good methods and practices in regard to advancing social inclusion and promoting decent work. On a daily basis they operate in diverse fields such as NGOs, European networks, trade unions, educational institutes; which brings an added value to the project by their specific contribution: FIC (Denmark), SOLIDAR (European Network), CGIL (Italy) and IDEAS Institute (Ireland).
Published in October 2013 © Youth Job Patrol
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the author and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
Foreword A million dollar question: from which country does the statement “our youth is lazy” derive from? A: Norway B: Italy C: United Kingdom Answer? All of them. And we could add several more countries to the list. The economic crisis has created a plausible platform where the blame game between relevant stakeholders in each country, has made winners of those who could convincingly pinpoint why the youth unemployment has skyrocketed. Laziness among youth has made the headlines in several European countries. Schools all over Europe report of demotivated youth that frequently drops out; the employers are tired of young people treating job interviews like musical auditions and the trade unions are bedazzled because the youth is ignorant of the unions’ fight for a decent labour market. The European Union and its respective Member States have significant focus on youth and their future. The concept of NEETs (young people not in employment, education and training) has quickly entered the language of the Europeans, and the focus on youth employment is bigger than ever. This is a focus we all must retain, but we also need to focus on youth that is active. A ‘NEET’ will quickly fall of the statistics if he or she enrolls in training, and an unemployed youngster will cause decrease in the youth unemployment rate as soon as he or she starts working. These are quantitative goals that are very important, but it is as important to actually engage youth in matters that concern them. Youth that is already active in improvement of the labour market must be offered a platform where they can define, develop and implement their own projects. They must be offered possibilities to influence the labour market and their interest must be nourished. “Decent Work for European Youth” has been such a project. Our goal and mission has been to give youth a platform where they can meet and inspire each other and take ownership of the activities that would secure decent work for European youth. The focus of the project has predominantly and intentionally been on the practical exchanges, with one of the main activities being a study trip to Denmark. Here, the young people from Ireland and Italy were hosted by the young activists from the Danish Job Patrol. During the couple of days of paying visits to Danish companies, the young participants from the three countries became very motivated to establish a lasting cooperation. I believe that each of the young participants will tell you that they have been cringing prior to the company visits. The results however are uplifting. But do not take my word for it. Read on.
Project Manager Dijana Dix Omerbasic, FIC
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Young people not in employment, education or training The term NEET is used to describe young people who are not engaged in any form of employment, education or training. The term has come into the policy debate in recent years due to disproportionate impact of the recession on young people (under 30 years old). The unemployment rate for those under thirty is nearly double the average rate. Those with low levels of education are three times more likely to be NEET than those with third-level education. The risk is 70% higher for young people from an immigration background than nationals while having a disability or health issue is also a strong risk factor.
Rates of NEETs across Europe1 Some 14 million young people are not in employment, education or training across the EU as a whole. However rates vary widely from around 5.5% of 15-24 year olds in the Netherlands to 22.7% in Italy.
The cost of NEETs to Society2 The economic cost of not integrating NEETs is estimated at over €150 billion, or 1.2% of GDP, in 2011 figures. Some countries, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Poland are paying 2% or more of their GDP. Fostered by increasingly high youth unemployment rates and the economic and societal consequences associated with NEET status, there is a renewed sense of urgency to develop and implement policies to bring young people (back) into employment, education or training across Europe. In recent years EU Member States have been actively engaged in designing and implementing policy measures aimed at increasing the employability of young people and promoting a higher level of employment participation among them. There is a general consensus that the current economic situation in Europe risks the creation of a lost generation of young people who lack opportunities and pathways into employment. High youth unemployment and NEET rates show that the pathway to employment for young people nowadays is difficult. As a result of the crisis, even the most highly educated and skilled have
struggled to make the transition from education to work. Spurred by increasingly high youth unemployment rates and by the economic and societal consequences associated with NEET status, EU Member States have been actively engaged in designing and implementing policy measures aimed at increasing the employability and promoting higher employment participation of 3 young people . 4
SIPTU PRESS RELEASE : SIPTU researcher, Lorraine Mulligan, said: “The rate of youth unemployment in Ireland is among the highest in the EU. However, the rate of young people under 29 years who are ‘not in employment, education or training’ (referred to as ‘NEETs’) is elevated at 18.4% in Ireland this is significantly higher than the average EU rate of 12.9%.” In the main, this category has a heightened risk of being disengaged or distant from the labour market. “She added: “The expansion of apprenticeship/structured traineeships and vocational education should be prioritised as part of the roll-out of a ‘Youth Guarantee’ in Ireland, allowing young people to gain recognised industry-relevant qualifications.” Lorraine also stated “The Government must utilise the €6 billion funding recently agreed as part of the ‘Youth Guarantee’ at EU level in order to assist young people into the workforce. This will require the Government to commit resources over a period of time. Engagement with the social partners is urgently needed to work out how to best implement a programme of supports for young people, emphasising the need for quality with regard to training/further education and 5 workplace opportunities.”
Eurofound (2012), NEETs – Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe 4
Http://www.siptu.ie/media/pressreleases2012/featurednews/full story_16867_en.html 5
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IRELAND Written by: Ideas Institute (Ireland)
Position of young workers on the labour market
in both welfare payments and lost revenue as well 6 as in lost production .
In today`s economy young people especially those under 25 have been badly hit by the recession. Ireland now has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Europe. One in four young people aged between 17-25 years are jobless. Figures in last year`s census show the unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group is almost three times the overall rate of unemployment at 39%. It also found that more than 82,000 of people under 25 were out of work. More than 30% of unemployed people under 25 have been unemployed for more than 12 months. People aged 25-44 accounted for the largest number of emigrants with 39,500 people leaving the country and this has increased from 31,300 in the previous 12 months.
Between 2010 and 2011, the deterioration in the labour market indicators for the younger age cohorts was notable: the younger age groups were relatively more affected by outward migration, with those aged 20-34 being particularly adversely affected, despite the growth in the overall population, it is estimated that the number of persons aged 20-34 declined by almost 44,000 the number of 20-34-year-olds participating in the labour force declined by approximately 40,000 the number of unemployed persons aged 20-24 declined, the only age cohort for which a decline occurred the decline in the labour force participation rate was the sharpest for those aged 20-24.
Since early 2008 there has been a severe deterioration in the Irish economy, which has had major knock-on implications for the labour market. Unemployment increased from around 4.5 per cent at the end of 2007 to over 13 per cent in 2010. Given the scale of the problems currently facing the Irish economy, the level of unemployment is likely to remain high over the medium term. In this context it is particularly important to implement effective activation measures to assist and encourage jobseekers to remain active in the labour market and/or to increase their employability in order to avoid long-term unemployment. Prevention of longterm unemployment is important from both economic and social perspectives. The long-term unemployed find it particularly difficult to find work, even when demand for labour increases. This disparity arises partly because they tend to have lower levels of education and poorer labour market experience, and partly because their skills deteriorate and those with shorter spells of unemployment are better able to compete for jobs. In addition, long-term unemployed individuals are more likely to suffer from social exclusion and poor health. From the perspective of the wider economy, long-term unemployment entails substantial financial costs
With regards to the age distribution of employment, those aged 25-34 were the largest category in quarter 4 2011, with almost 29% of employment falling into this age group .However, the share of those younger than 35 in total employment declined by 1.5 percentage points when compared to quarter 4 2010. At the same time, the share of those aged 55 and above remained effectively unchanged. The Charts below shows the education distribution of employment for the working age population (persons aged 15-64) in quarter 4 2011. Approximately 45% of employment was in the third level category: 29% holding an honours degree or equivalent (a two percentage-point rise on the share in quarter 4 2010) and 16% with a non-honours degree (a 1.3 percentage point drop). Almost 39% of persons in employment held higher secondary/FET qualifications, a marginal increase on the share observed for quarter 4 2010. The share with below higher secondary/FET qualifications was just above 16% - a decline of one percentage point.
SLMRU(2012), National Skills Bulletin 2012, A Study by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in FĂ S for the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs
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Employment by Age % (Quarter 4 2011) 35 30 25 20 Age Groups
15 10 5 0 15-19 20-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-59 60-64
Source: SLMRU (FÁS) analysis of CSO data
Employment by Education (Highest Level Achieved) (%), Quarter 4 2011
Third Level Honours Degree or Above 29.1% Lower Secondary and Below16.3% Higher Secondary/FET 38.8% Third Level Certificate/Below Honours Degree 15.9%
Source: SLMRU (FÁS) analysis of CSO data.
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Exploitation of young workers In Ireland, youth unemployment was a reality even during the days of the Celtic Tiger. We have had, for over a decade, one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Europe. At the same time, young people in the workforce often face exploitation and discrimination because of their age. Jobs available to young workers have shifted towards part-time, casual and temporary employment lacking security, paying lower wages and with a high turnover of staff. Due to the huge rise in unemployment along with the relentless attack on working conditions, there is also now the fear of a new brain drain as young Irish people are forced to emigrate. Many young Irish people think their jobs outlook is bleaker than that of the rest of the population and the evidence backs this up. According to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, the rate of unemployment across the 16-member euro area stands at 10%, but youth unemployment in the same area is 20.4%. Similarly, the unemployment rate across the whole of the EU was 9.6% in 2010, but in the same period the youth unemployment figure was 21%. Youth unemployment in Ireland was calculated as 29.1% in March this year when the overall figure was 14.1%.Therefore, using the International Labour Organisation definition of an unemployed person [i.e. someone looking for and available for a job],the youth unemployment rate in the EU is more than double the overall unemployment rate. In the EU, two out of every 10 young people in the labour force is unemployed. In Ireland, this figure rises to almost three in every 10 young people. While educational qualifications are still the best insurance against unemployment, the challenge facing jobless youth in Ireland is the failure of government to stimulate jobs growth in the services, sales and construction industries which traditionally employ young workers. Without a jobs strategy focused on retaining our school leavers and graduates in this country, we face the prospect of losing a generation to emigration. For young people out of work, or in precarious and exploited employment, the question to ask is do we need to wait until our youth unemployment rate is as high as that in Spain before we act? The organisation and participation rate of young workers in trade unions is low. As a result, many young workers – unaware of their rights – experience unsafe, exploitative and discriminatory work practices. But the message is clear: the best
way to tackle these problems is for young people 7 to get organised through a trade union . Due to the economic times we are in many young workers are been exploited in many different area`s such as Nurses, Guards, teachers, low paid workers, professional people and workers in the construction area. The current economic crisis has generated a number of previously unseen issues. Apprentices are now unable to complete their training since there is no work for them to complete their field modules. Those anyway involved in the construction or motor industries find themselves now considering other life options. Business has almost grinded to a halt in some cases. Professional people, for example Solicitors and Architects, now face the shock of joining the dole queue after having spent years studying in order to acquire professional qualifications. One exceptional feature about this current economic predicament is its global affect. In the past, the option of finding work abroad remained. Consequently, many Irish immigrated to richer pastures. However, within the current context, every nation on every continent is affected by the downturn. Unemployment is rife everywhere. Unlike the 1970s and 1980s, today’s unemployed Irish people have nowhere to go in their quest to find work. Case: Teachers in Ireland The pay of Irish teachers has been among the worst hit by cuts to education systems across 34 countries, the European Commission has reported. While a 20% increase in teachers’ income over the previous decade was one of the highest across Europe, the report — to coincide with World Teachers’ Day — highlights the impact on entrants to the profession. Teachers who have started work since the beginning of 2011 started on 13% less than others, while those appointed since last February faced a further 20% drop on foot of suspended qualification and other allowances. Although these have subsequently been stopped for anybody who started teaching after last February as part of last month’s public service allowance review, a revised salary scale for new teachers has slightly reduced the overall impact of the cuts. The starting pay of any new teacher since Feb 1 is €30,702, compared to €32,240 for those who started between Jan 2011 and that 7
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date, or almost €37,000 for new teachers in 2010. The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation says the difference between earnings in the first decade for those starting this year and in 2011 will be almost €4,400 but would rise to over €100,000 across a 40-year career, or €250,000 when compared to a 2010 entrant. The pay of serving teachers before the signing of the Croke Park deal in 2010 cannot be cut by Government. However, the three unions representing teachers are preparing an equality case on behalf of those who started last year on the grounds of age discrimination, which they hope could make the campaign to reverse the cuts easier. “It’s not conscionable or fair that people doing the same job are on different pay rates and it simply has to be and will be put right, the only question is when and how,” INTO deputy general secretary Noel Ward told recently-qualified teachers in Cork .At his inauguration the new president of St Patrick’s College in Dublin, Dr Daire Keogh, warned cuts to new teachers’ pay could make the profession less attractive. He said ending payment of qualifications allowances to serving teachers would disincentives them from improving their skills. Case: Student nurses against paycut Young nurses are also been exploited over 1,600 people have signed an online petition calling on the cuts to nurses’ pay to be reversed. It comes after the Health Service Executive announced the recruitment of 1,000 graduate nurses and midwives to the public health service next year. The graduate nurses will receive a two-year contract and will be paid a rate of 80 per cent of the first point of the salary scale for a staff nurse. 8
The HSE said that those recruited can earn “approximately €26,000 per annum including basic pay and premium pay”. The recruitment drive aims to save around €10 million for the HSE by reducing the reliance on agency workers and overtime.
An online petition, Student Nurses against Paycut 9 signed by more then 1600 young people, read :
The HSE provides all of Ireland's public health services, in hospitals and communities across the country 9 www.irishtimes.com
At present, it is not the desire of some student nurses to emigrate, however, the way the government is treating our profession it may leave some with no choice. After studying and working hard for four years to earn our honours degree these students feel it is unfair and unjust we will have a starting salary that is less than that received by other occupations in the hospital which do not require a degree. Naomi Alexander Leacy, who signed the petition yesterday, said she thinks the cuts are disgraceful, especially when other hospital positions go untouched: I realise everyone is enduring cuts, but the repeated cuts on nurses, and student nurses in particular is offensive when so many other positions in the hospitals go untouched. Liam Doran, General Secretary of the INMO said the HSE announcement was “tarnished and sullied” by the announcement of reduced pay and that they would seek discussions with the HSE in order to address the shortcomings. Case: Croke Park Agreement The Croke Park Agreement (CPA) is an agreement reached by the government and the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) as well as the Garda and Defence Forces representative associations in June 2010 i.e. public sector workers. Officially known as the Public Service Agreement – but given the name because of the venue where negotiations took place (in its conference facilities as opposed to on the field!) – it runs from 2010 to 2014 and is broadly a commitment by the public service to “change the way it does business” and in return there is a commitment from the government that there will be no reductions in pay rates or compulsory redundancies within the public sector. Excluding those who work in semi-state companies like the ESB there are just over 334,000 people working in the public sector which accounts for just under a fifth of the current workforce in Ireland. That makes the agreement a pretty significant one within the Irish labour market. Unions such as the country’s largest, SIPTU, are worried about the effect the deal is having on low-paid workers which they believe are being disproportionally affected by roster changes, redeployment, extended working days and loss of allowances.
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Case: Penny’s In recent news the retail giant Penny`s (Primark) are refusing to give their staff pay rises. Staff at Penney`s have been refused a 3pc pay rise. The retailer has seen business boom during the recession as shoppers flocked to its stores to buy up cheaper clothes. But talks on a 3pc pay rise for 3,000 staff collapsed, with Mandate now having referred the dispute to the Labour Court. The trade union said the bosses at the British-owned retailer would not commit to giving the increase. In a letter, Mandate said: "Despite Penney`s achieving consistently huge profits during the years of recession, the disappointing response by management was to produce a list of counterdemands." The retailer proposed a lower pay scale and a cut in Sunday premiums for new recruits, the union said. Penney`s management and union representatives last met at the Labour Relations Commission on March 1. Revenue at Primark - operating as Penney`s in Ireland - was up 13pc to €3.54bn in the year to the end of September 2011. The dispute comes after about 14,000 staff at Dunne’s Stores was awarded a 3pc pay increase. It represented the first pay rise 10 for staff at the retailer since December 2007 .
Legislation to protect young workers The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996 is designed to protect the health of young workers, and to ensure that employment done during the school year does not put their education at risk. The law sets minimum age limits for employment, sets rest intervals and maximum working hours, and prohibits the employment of those under 18 years of age on late night work. The National Minimum Wage Act 2000, became law on the 1st April, 2000. From 1 July 2011 the national minimum hourly rate of pay is €8.65. See below a table outlying the statutory rates of pay in Ireland. Employees in certain sectors in Ireland are covered by specific agreements regarding their employment - Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) and Registered Employment Agreements (REAs). These agreements deal with the pay and working conditions of the employees in these sectors. The various agreements on pay and conditions made by Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) are known as Employment Regulation 10
Orders (EROs).A Collective Agreement which results from negotiations between trade unions and employers and has been registered with the Labour Court it is known as a Registered Employment Agreement (REA).Employers in sectors covered by an ERO or REA are obliged by law to pay the wage rates and provide the conditions of employment prescribed by the 11 orders and agreements . Statutory minimum hourly rates of pay Employee Experienced adult worker
Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay €8.65 per working hour
Under age 18
€6.06 per working hour
In the first year after the date of first employment over age 18, whether or not the employee changes employer during the year In the second year after the date of first employment over age 18, whether or not the employee changes employer during the year
€6.92 per working hour
In a course of training or study over age 18, undertaken in normal working hours 1st one third period 2nd one third period 3rd one third period NB Each one third period must be at least one month and no longer than twelve months. Experienced adult worker named by the Labour Court in granting a temporary exemption to an employer from paying €8.65 per working hour NB. Minimum period of temporary exemption is 3 months and maximum period is 12 months
€6.49 per working hour €6.92 per working hour €7.79 per working hour
€7.79 per working hour
Labour Court will decide the lower hourly rate of pay that the employee must be paid for the period of the temporary exemption
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Activities and Information Campaigns At present there is not sufficient political leadership on the issue of youth unemployment, many of the actions and initiatives are spread across 3/4 Departments and a range of state agencies. Reverse the cutbacks in social welfare to young jobseekers -the new policy is ill-thought out and does not take the needs of different young people into account. At the moment some young people are forced to engage in education and training which is of little use to them just to retain their benefits. The vast majority of young people want a job and failing that want education, training 12 or work experience . Forfás, Ireland’s policy advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation, has recently completed a review of Training Programmes. The findings raised a number of questions about the focus and effectiveness of some of the programmes provided. This review indicates that some of the programmes need to address dropout rates, are not sufficiently targeting those on social welfare, have lost focus on their target group and need to do more to ensure participants make progress after the course is over and provide certification. NYCI believes that the following changes are required. Increased investment in supports and measures to retain young people particularly disadvantaged youths on training courses. Courses such as the local training initiative should be refocused on young job seekers between 16 and 25 years of age. Training opportunities should be targeted exclusively at those who are unemployed, particularly young people and the long term unemployed. All state funded courses should be required to provide certification within a 3 year period. Ø Courses should be required to demonstrate their effectiveness in supporting the progression of young people into further education, training or employment. Where courses or programmes are not delivering for young people, the resources should be diverted to other more effective programmes. The European Commission has proposed new measures to tackle the high levels of youth 12
unemployment. They have built upon models that have been used in Finland, Sweden and Austria. It includes a “Youth Guarantee” which would give under 25`s a guarantee of quality work, training or education with 4 months of leaving school or losing a job. The European Youth Guarantee campaign was launched in Dublin at start of December .The Department of Social Protection has submitted a proposal for €250,000 from the European Commission for a `preparatory action` Youth Guarantee scheme in the North-side community of Dublin which is due to run from April 2013 to April 2014. Recent initiatives that the Government has 13 introduced are : JobBridge- National internship Scheme Pathways to Work- Government Policy Statement on Labour Market Activation Work Placement Programme Tús- Community Work Placement Initiative Back to College Initiative for Jobseekers
Sectors where jobs are available According to a report produced by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in FÁS for the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (February 2013) vacancies were most frequent for 14 the following : Sales, marketing and customer service Business associate professionals (e.g. sales accounts and business development managers, business sales executives) Sales occupations (e.g. field sales agents, retail sales assistants) Customer service occupations Science and engineering professionals IT professionals (e.g. programmers/software developers, IT business analysts, web designers, IT specialist managers) Design and development engineers Process engineers Business professionals Financial project management professionals, chartered accountants, management consultants and business analysts, regulatory professionals, quality control professionals. 13
http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/unemploym ent_and_redundancy/employment_support_schemes/national _internship_scheme.html 14 http://www.skillsireland.ie/
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ITALY Written by: CGIL FILCAMS (Italy)
The employment situation of young people in Italy To discuss the nature of the employment situation of young people in Italy first we must understand what is meant by "young people" in Italy. If, in other European countries, particularly in the countries of Northern Europe, they are the under25s, under-27s, under-30s who are considered young, in Italy in the third millennium people under 35 are considered as young, a standard which tends constantly to be raised to include those generations that have an uncertain employment status or who do not enjoy stable employment; nor are they autonomous, against their wishes, of their family of origin. Young is, therefore, also those who are no longer "young". To describe their situation, we start with the official numbers and statistics (ISTAT 2012):
In the 15-24 age group, that is, in the age group which includes school leavers, school leavers with professional qualifications, school leavers with another certificate of study, university students, in short a population of around 6,041,000 people, the economic activity rate is equal to 28.7%. This means that 71.3% are not working nor looking for work and are involved in other activities. Of those who are active, only 18.6% have a job. Those who are looking for work but cannot find it number about 611,000, a figure that already in 2013 has risen to 650,000. In the 15-29 age group, a mid-range which includes school leavers and graduates, the economic activity rate is 43.5% and only 32.5% are working. In the 25-34 age group, which includes graduates, young people with a high level of education, young people with work experience, etc. (a population of 11,625,000 people), the economic activity rate is just over half, the equivalent of 54%. Only 40% (about 4,667,000) are employed, while 14.9% (about 815,000) are actively seeking work but cannot find it.
In short, the employment rate of those aged between 15 and 34 years continues to fall: it is
at 41%. The reduction affects both genders and all regions. The OECD data speak of an Italy where people remain below the poverty line beyond 40 years of age and reveals a labour market in which young people find themselves in precarious and poorly paid conditions, where they come and go, as if they were stuck in the revolving door of a hotel. The low employment rates recount/denounce three realities that characterise Italy: 1) The extreme prolongation of the period of internships and apprenticeships, tools that employers often abuse to take advantage of free or almost free labour and a young, dynamic, enterprising, industrious workforce often willing to do anything in hope of being hired. An expectation that 9 times out of 10 will end in disappointment. Only 1 in 10 young people, in fact, after an internship in a private company receives an offer of employment. In most cases, young interns are sent home and replaced with other interns. 2) Moonlighting: from the data of Almalaurea, an organisation that monitors the placing of graduates in the labour market, it emerges that about 13% of graduates in medicine, law, architecture, pharmacy, chemistry and veterinary find themselves in unreported employment. This means that not only do they receive less than they ought to receive, but also that they are totally without protection and NI and social security contributions. 3) The existence of multiple types of precarity: not only fixed-term employment, which now affects 2.5 million people, but also forms of “parasubordinate” work (contractedout work) that continue to grow and multiply, leaving entire generations without any contractual reference point and deprived of most of their basic rights: about 4 million people. Since the 1990s, Italian Governments have introduced types of fixed-term contracts, with the declared intent of encouraging job creation. In
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reality, employment for an indefinite period has been replaced with temporary employment, subordinate (or dependent) employment has been replaced by forms of para-employment or freelancing. 85% of new appointments take place through one of the 46 types of employment contracts foreseen in the Italian legal system. The result is that the index of Strictness Employment Protection, with which the OECD measures the degree of rigidity of a job and ease of dismissal, has fallen to 1.77% as opposed to 3.05 in France, 2.98 Spain, and 2.12 in Germany. Temporary or part-time would not be in itself a bad thing, if: 1) Young people had the chance to choose, that is, it was not mandatory because of a lack of alternatives; as the etymology of the word "precarious" implies, if they did not have to pray for a job, to keep it and to have it renewed; 2) If it really constituted a chance to enter the labour market and enrich their professional skills; 3) If there were a system of social protection, which would give the young person who loses their job unemployment benefits and tools for re-entering the labour market. Instead, in most cases temporary employment is not a voluntary choice of the new employee who wishes, for example, to have an income for a certain period of time or wishes to combine work and study activities. It is the only form of employment. Part-time is often imposed, but even when it is a free choice the modulation of hours can become a prison that limits flexibility in the management of the time of workers and especially for females. Having a temporary contract often means being exposed to various actual abuses, such as the possibility for the employer to pay less than the proper rate for work, to disguise under a form of para-employment or freelancing real relations of employment, to circumvent the collective agreements for the sector (whose regulatory provisions often apply only to employees, not to para-employees or interns) and the law, to pass on to the worker the increased costs of NI and social security contributions, to lay off (when the contract expires) without just cause, also for discriminatory reasons (for example, an unexpected pregnancy, a protracted illness, an
accident, a dispute, joining a union), which, however, should be prohibited by law and the Workers' Statute. In addition, the risk for the young precarious worker of tumbling, on the loss of employment, into the abyss of poverty and social exclusion is very high, because the risk is elevated of not having the minimum requirements for access to unemployment benefits or forms of redundancy pay in the case of bankruptcy/company collapse, there does not exist the possibility of obtaining a subsistence/basic income nor are there active policies for retraining and vocational rehabilitation, nor tools to facilitate the start-up of business and support the innovative ideas of an enterprising young person. The more work is precarious, the more fragile is the ability of the union to provide representation and protection. A young precarious employee, with a temporary contract, exposed to the risk of being blackmailed and fired, tends to avoid becoming unpopular with the boss, to accept any request and stay away from trade unions, for fear of the possible consequences. In addition, the Italian system is made up of companies that are almost all small or very small (about 3.5 million workers are employed in companies with over 250 employees, just over 2 million in those with between 50 and 249 employees, about 1.6 million in those with between 20 and 49 employees and about 10 million in companies with under 20 employees). A trade union presence in micro-enterprises, with one or two fixed-term employees is very difficult, if not impossible. Consequently, the possibility of having relations with the company to clarify the conditions of workers and if necessary to regularise irregular situations is very limited. Whole generations have entered the labour market without knowing what a national collective labour contract is. Several generations now do not know what a just wage is, or the right to get sick, to have children, to rest, to strike. This reserve army was the last link of the chain on to which were placed the risks and costs of production as well as becoming, when required, the tool used to call in question the rights of all and encourage the breaking up of solidarity among workers: as has happened over the last twenty years with relocation, procurement, outsourcing, subcontracts, etc.
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In addition to those who work, and in poor conditions, moving from one job to another, there are also those who do not work and have stopped looking for work in the awareness of not being able to find it, and who have also stopped training themselves in the belief that training is no longer the spur for social mobility, the tool to access the labour market and grow, but is simply a waste of time. In Italy the under-35 NEETs number 3.2 million, more than 1 in 4. Fewer and fewer people consider schools and universities as an instrument of social mobility, the instrument through which to improve their economic and cultural conditions of origin. More and more people consider study to be a waste of time, something which does not facilitate entry into the labour market, which will provide absolutely useless skills for the labour market. In Italy, only one third of graduates do work related to their studies and their skills. It is no coincidence that the number of graduates, already lower than the European average, has started to decline once more. And finally there are those who emigrate, leaving the country in search of a job that meets their expectations and skills and allows them to achieve employment and economic stability, so as to be independent of their family of origin and build their own family. Over 27,000 a year flee abroad, generally the more educated under40s. A brain drain, particularly in the direction of Germany, the most popular destination, Switzerland, Britain and France. Faced with this â€œmassacreâ€? of young people, which also affects workers in more stable employment, due to the attempt of companies to attack the rights and protections that have been established, and to extend throughout the whole world of work the conditions and treatment that today are reserved for temporary workers, the CGIL, the largest union in Italy, with about 6 million active and retired members, has raised the issue of how to restructure their practices and methods of action and how to renew the contents of their struggles in order to address the new generations, how to organise people who are often invisible and marginalised, how to provide representation and protection, including contractual, for the new forms of work, how to relaunch the conquest of new rights for those who do not have them and defend the rights of those who do, to ensure that to equal work corresponds equal pay and the same guarantees and rights.
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DENMARK Written by: FIC (Denmark)
The unemployment situation 13,2% of the Danish youth under the age of 30 is unemployed. The numbers are cleared for students, who are therefore not included in these 13+ percent. The amount of young unemployed has been somewhat the constant in recent years, although it has been doubled since the financial crisis in 2008. According to the statistics the situation is slowly getting better. Different stakeholders representing the government, the education and the employment system and the public in general express optimism on behalf of skilled youth and youth that has completed an education, since these groups are less exposed to precariousness. Youth under 30 has a right and a duty to begin some sort of activity (courses, programs, education etc.) for a minimum period of 6 months no later than 13 weeks after registering as unemployed, in order to be eligible for unemployment/social benefits. Youth under the age of 20, without any acquired education or training must begin same type of activity as the target group above, but with the first 4 weeks of unemployment. It is the job center or the municipality that arranges different courses and programs for the unemployed. The courses are obligatory and their purpose is of course to get the youth back on the labour market, but since education is number one priority, the efforts will usually focus on educational activities for youth that has not completed an education previously. Both insured and non-insured youth must be available for the labour market at all times, also if they are following programs arranged by the job center or the municipality. Young unemployed must confirm their unemployment to the job center once a week. The social security is currently about 435 Euros pr. month for young unemployed under 25 who are living with their parents and about 900 Euros pr. month for those not living with their parents. If the young unemployed have children or are expecting a baby the rates are higher. If the young unemployed have not been resident in Denmark, Greenland or Faroe Islands for the past seven out of eight years he/she is entitled to social
benefits that are approximately 65-130 Euros lower than for other Danish residents. The mentioned amounts are before taxes. There is a major focus on youth unemployment on the political arena. There are many policies that seek to activate young people into (first and foremost) education for those without one and helping those who are skilled back to the labour market. However, the system of flexicurity is sensitive in times of crises because of low conjecture, i.e. low demand from the employers. This is however a temporary situation, because as soon as the conjecture turns there will be a need for more (young) workers. This is one of the reasons why different stakeholders express only little worry about skilled and educated youth – because they are equipped to enter the labour market as soon as the demand increases. But unskilled and uneducated youth faces much rougher times, not just in the short run but also on long term basis. Studies show that Danish youth who does not begin some sort of education from early on is more exposed to never completing an education. The political goal to be reached by 2015 is that 95 % of young people complete an education. The focus in a Danish context is very much on the “problematic” group of young people that are neither in employment, education nor training (NEETs). Currently, the government is introducing reforms that will focus even more on getting the NEETs back on track and off the social schemes.
Precarious employment for youth Young workers are in some sectors more exposed to precariousness, depending on how precariousness is defined. Precariousness can be measured on different parameters: working time, wages, health and safety at work, types of contracts, sickness and work related injuries just to mention a few. In terms of precariousness related to health and safety at work, the Danish youngsters are far more exposed to “dangerous” work than in any other age group. As a matter of fact, every fourth Danish youngster has a job where working environment regulations are violated. Young apprentices and interns between 18-24 years of age have 50 percent
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more risk of work related injuries than any other age group. Other cases that concern a different type of precariousness are connected to the working contracts. There have been a few cases where young workers had contracts which stipulated the possibility of economic sanctions, and in many cases, the young people did not have a contract at all. The cases that are being reported in the media show that it is not only health and safety issues that youth are unaware of, but also their rights regarding working time (including overtime), sick leave, pension rights etc. At the same time, the employers are not complying with the labour legislation either. It has become apparent that there are many more of these cases and they are hard to uncover unless young workers involve their parents and the trade unions. The exposure of these recent cases has pressured the employers concerned to sign collective agreements (for instance by employers Agnes Cupcakes and Joe & The Juice) and the unions have established task forces to prevent work-related exploitation of young workers. Most of the issues regarding work-related conditions for youth are described in the annual Job Patrol reports. Job Patrol is a task force that has been monitoring wages, working conditions and the working environment for young workers below 18 for more than 30 years. Job Patrol was established by the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and since January 2012 it is being run by LO’s two largest member unions HK and United Federation of Danish Workers (3F). It is actually the reports from Job Patrol that have revealed that almost one third of employers do not comply with formal regulations. The recent Job Patrol report, which shows results of patrolling during the summer of 2013 where young representatives from Ireland and Italy were visiting Denmark as a part of this project, have just been released. The report shows that 13 percent of the young workers do not have a work contract. This shows a positive curve since 2009 where it was 20 percent. According to legislation, (young) workers that work more than 8 hours pr. week are entitled to have a work contract.
The young Danish workers can work 8 hours pr. shift. The Job Patrol shows that 20, 3 percent actually work more than that. After 4 hours of work the young workers are entitled to a half hour break, but 26, 1 percent of the young workers do not get these breaks. The wages for the young workers have been somewhat stable in the past years. The lack of payment is usually connected to try-out or training periods where the youth is entitled to wages. 6, 4 percent have not received payment during the try-out/training period which is a positive development since 2009 where 18 percent did not get paid during these periods. As previously mentioned, the Danish youth is far more exposed to health and safety risks. This year’s Job Patrol reports that there has been a negative trend in this area: 25, 4 percent of youth has reported that they lift, carry or push more than the allowed 12 kilos of goods. In general, the youth is very poorly informed about the risks at work – almost 40 percent have not received any safety instructions about their work. 8, 9 percent have had a work related injury. In case of sickness, the employer is obliged to find a substitute but every fifth young worker has had to find his/her own substitute. This results in young people showing up for work sick, if they had not found a substitute. In case that a young worker has been successful in finding a substitute, he/she exposes him/herself to the risk of not getting paid during the sickness period because they technically have given their shift away to someone who could work instead. In order to receive payment during sickness a young worker must work more than 74 hours during a 8 week period. Although, 55,6 percent of the youth workers that the Job Patrol has spoken to are entitled to this they have not received payment during period of sickness. The Job Patrols’ report is based on interviews with more than 3.000 young workers and visits to more than 11.000 companies. In 70, 4 percent of the visits that have led to an interview there was a problem in the employment. In other words, only 29, 6 percent of the young workers have a job where no rules or regulations are being breached. Another sad trend can be traced in the young workers’ trade union membership. In 2009, only 14,3 % of young people were a member of a union. The amount has been decreasing since – this year landing on poor 8,6%. The
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Job Patrol concludes that the poor union membership is directly illustrated in the youths’ poor knowledge of their rights on the labour marked. Apart from the directly precarious aspects of youth’s work the aspect of how unknowledgeable the youth – as well as some young entreprenours – are of the labour market legislation is disturbing. Lack of knowledge exposes the young workers to precarious work even more. Many European countries are also concerned about the growing tendency towards temporary contracts and part-time work. Temporary contracts and part-time work as such are not necessarily considered as precarious work in Denmark. Denmark has always had high part-time employment since it by large implies that young people are in apprenticeship either under a vocational education programme or in a job while studying. This accounts for the high part-time rates reported in many countries and their increase in recent years. One of the areas where the Danish youth is highly exposed is in poverty-at-risk statistics. Danish youth leaves home quite early and depends on their own resources. The very high costs of living urge the youth to be employed and secure their income. This paradoxically implies that having a job as a young person produces higher levels of at-risk-of-poverty.
Other challenges… Education and employment have always been interlinked in Danish settings, which is why the opportunities on the labour market cannot be discussed as an area detached from the educational system. Current situation, where unemployment is high for all age groups, and where the young lack training opportunities, have an important impact on both the labour market and the educational system. The government-proclaimed goal of having 95 percent of all young people through an education is therefore firmly rooted among all stakeholders (from the educational system, the labour market system, the government, the employers’ and employees’ organizations etc.), but it also poses challenges on how to achieve that goal. Sometimes this quantitative goal pressures young people into training and education that they are not prepared for or capable of achieving, which starts a vicious cycle of many
young people dropping out of schools, becoming demotivated and ending up on social security schemes. At the same time, the vocational schools in particular, suffer from the large amount of dropouts which has led to a bad image of vocational schools as a second class education. In order to improve this image, the VETs have focused on higher quality of education but sometimes these initiatives have backfired; the quality of education has sometimes been “improved” by unreasonable or irrelevant demands. The Danish LO used the example of demands for top level English skills in the car mechanic training, which in their opinion makes no sense. The quality of training is also being “improved” with admission exams and those stakeholders that have embraced it, explain that it is better for a young person to get the impression of what the education/training is all about before the enrolment. Otherwise the young person would risk dropping out later on. The critics on the other hand are saying that admission exams for vocational training make no sense, since they do not give an impression of young persons’ real competencies, but only of their ability to master academic language. The paradox becomes more obvious if we look at the young people in vocational training; i.e. youth that is both motivated and capable of achieving skills and training. They are also a vulnerable group because their completion of an education depends on available training places. The lack of training places is often being raised as a critique towards employers and articulated as employers’ unwillingness to take responsibility for the youths’ education. Employers, on the other hand, stress that they are more than willing to take responsibility for the youth since they are very aware of the fact that the youth is their future work force. It is this exact link between education and labour market that has further defined which group of youth has the worst chances of getting (back) into the labour market. This group includes youth that is neither in employment or education and who therefore is more exposed to a life on social benefits.
…and what we do about them In Denmark, there is a major focus on youth in general. We often hear from our European partners that the issues of youth (un)employment have not been or are not yet prioritized by their governments. This is certainly
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not the case in Denmark â€“ the real challenge is to make the different stakeholders meet on common ground and provide specific solutions. One of the best practices, which is one of the pillars of the Danish welfare state, is the system of free education. In combination with the Danish State 15 Educational Grant and Loan Scheme , the free education system in Denmark makes education available to and attractive for many young people. The SU benefits have furthermore motivated more young people to enroll in training and education during the economic crisis. The strong educational system hereby contributes in keeping this age group out of the unemployment lines. Hence, through active labour market policies which are specifically targeted towards different groups of youth, the free education and the system of flexicurity, Denmark has managed to keep the unemployment in the 15-30 group somewhat low in comparison with the EUaverage. Also, the VET system generally works well â€“ in spite of the bad image. Dual education is the key word, and the mix of practical and theoretical training gives the Danish youth a large advantage on the labour market compared with VETs in many other European countries. At the same time, it is very common that the youth has a part-time jobs throughout their studies and they are therefore generally well experienced workers. As for the decent work for youth, the Job Patrol is once again very worth mentioning. It is not only the specific patrolling of work places every summer that is important; it is the very participation of youth in industrial relations that is significant and important to nourish. With such high unemployment rates in Europe, it is not strange that the youth has given up on politicians, trade unionists and the employers. Furthermore, it is not only in the interest of politicians, trade unions and the employers that inactive youth is activated, but in the interest of the society as a whole. But it is also important that youth that already is active is given a platform where they can see that their influence makes a difference and that their voices are being heard.
In Danish: Statens UddannelsesstĂ¸tte (abr. SU)
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Figure 1: Part-time employment rate of young people (aged 15-24), by country, 2008 and 2011, and EU-27 average 2000- 2011 Source: Eurostat â€“ LFS. Online data code: lfsa_eppgan
Figure 2: EU youth indicator: At-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate, by country and by age, 2010 Source: Eurostat â€“ Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). Online data code: ilc_peps01
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Figure 3: Housing cost overburden rate, by country and by age, 2010. Source: Eurostat â€“ SILC. Online data code: ilc_lvho07a
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