28th and 29th of April Negotiate researcher Kjetil Klette Boehler presented findings from the life course interviews with a specific focus on policy recommendation at the panel “Políticas de acompañamiento a la transición educación-trabajo: experiencias, tensiones y desafíos” at the Latin American Studies Associations annual conference in Peru, Lima.
Boehler used Deliverable 4.4. (authored by I. Tolgensbakk, J. Vedeler and B. Hvinden) as basis for his presentation in addition to existing research in the field. Boehler also participated in the research network “Labor research” with several Latin American and American scholars researching transitions from education to work in Latin America.
Focus and findings
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), Boehler showed how the informants underscored the importance of policy improvements in the areas of i) education, ii) employment services and iii) the practices of employers.
Policy recommendations for education
Across countries, interviewees voiced the need for better career counseling at school, whether by teachers, career counsellors – or even some sort of mentoring system. In particular, those telling a Messy Life Narrative expressed the need for guidance early in life.
The need for more and robust apprenticeships were also an important issue. As a solution to the problem of lack of apprenticeships, several interviewees suggested to encourage companies to a greater extent than today to take on young people.
The interviewees called for better, individually tailored governmental services, rendered by employment agency caseworkers who do not only see you as a number, but as an individual. Many interviewees told of feeling that their skills and experiences were overlooked.
Furthermore, the interviewees expressed a need for the development of better active labour market measures that would enhance rather than reduce their employability. It is important to the interviewees not to be trapped by such measures, but to enter the competitive labour market as soon as possible.
The recommendations that concerned employers centered around two main issues, namely the need to reduce discrimination and the need to improve work contracts.
Discrimination is mentioned especially in the narratives of Roma, of some of the women and some of the interviewees with disabilities. Roma interviewees referred to employers unwilling to take them on because of their ethnicity, and lamented the loss of protection after 1989. Interviewees with disabilities found it hard to find employers willing to accommodate their needs, even after completing all necessary education and training. Regarding discrimination of women, especially single mothers reported finding it difficult to secure reliable employment. The lack of affordable childcare clearly hindered the integration of women with caring responsibilities. Early motherhood was narrated as causing an interruption and a prolongation of the transition from school to work, with a lack of institutional support in all cohorts and almost all countries. Few proposed concrete solutions to the problem of discrimination, but some interviewees asked for more awareness and knowledge on behalf of employers, e.g. targeted efforts to reduce attitudinal barriers.
Irregular work, seasonal work and jobs without contracts were a major concern for the interviewees. Many spoke of such concepts as the grey sector and “junk” contracts – even experiences of not getting paid for their labour. Interviewees spoke of the need for better monitoring of existing legislation that is supposed to protect workers from precarity and exploitation by employers.
The event facilitated engaged discussions concerning the consequences of unemployment across countries and regions (e.g. Latin America and Europe) and the scholars aimed to establish a specific research network to discuss such cross-national differences in a comparative perspective.