Negotiate Overcoming early job-insecurity in Europe

NEGOTIATE results presented in Brazil

Young man back turned sitting on wall with harbour in background. Photo: colourbox
by Greta Juul

On the 19th, of March, Negotiate researcher Kjetil Klette Boehler presented findings from the life course interviews conducted at the Faculty of Education at the University of Campinas in Brazil.

The talk was in Portuguese and based upon Deliverable 4.4 (authored by I. Tolgensbakk, J. Vedeler and B. Hvinden). It was followed by engaged and fruitful discussions with Brazilian scholars and graduate students in the field about the consequences of unemployment for young adults in Europe and Brazil.

Focus and results from the talk

Based upon analysis of interview summaries from 211 interviews, conducted in seven European countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Norway, Poland and the UK), the authors examined the following three questions:

  1. From a cross-national perspective, what are the main narratives of people who have experienced job insecurity in their early youth as they transitioned into adulthood? How did they seek to actively cope with job insecurity?
  2. What are the effects of unemployment on the interviewees’ subjective experiences of social trust and life satisfaction?
  3. What are the interviewees’ policy recommendations?

Despite difficulties in finding similarities in data from such diverse countries and cohorts the authors identified four main narratives:

  1. The Stumbler Narrative consists of youths narrating their initial but passing troubles in their transition from education to labour.
  2. The Precariat Narrative is expressed by people who have experienced or are still experiencing a life situation of economic insecurity due to the lack of a permanent position. Temporary employment, either with or without a contract, emerge as a common factor.
  3. The Messy Life Narrative is distinguished by the telling of life trajectories that somehow got out of hand: chaotic upbringings, ill health and/or abuse issues are some of the themes that characterise this narrative group.
  4. The Great Crisis Narrative portrays unemployment in the wider sense of catastrophic societal crisis and loss. These stories are marked by a sense of hopelessness, and the interviewees portray their unemployment as a fate that is completely out of their control.

Based upon analysis of the interview data the authors also identified policy proposals from the informants in the in the areas of education, employment services and the practices of employers. In short, the informants underscored the importance of:

  • More and robust apprenticeships,
  • Better, individually tailored governmental services, rendered by employment agency caseworkers who do not only see you as a number, but as an individual, and
  • Better monitoring of existing legislation that is supposed to protect workers from precarity and exploitation by employers.

The fact that unemployment among young adults is rising in Brazil, as well as in Europe the last decade, made the topic highly relevant for Brazilian scholars. The participants in the audience showed great interest in the project and were eager to learn more about the NEGOTIATE project.

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Greta Juul
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