Negotiate Overcoming early job-insecurity in Europe

NEGOTIATE findings highly relevant for national stakeholders

by Greta Juul

Stakeholders found the Negotiate findings highly relevant for their organisations and interesting for policy decisions at the second Norwegian stakeholder meeting in Oslo.

The second Norwegian national stakeholder meeting took place on February 21th 2017 at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA-NOVA). Representatives from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), private consultancies (previously Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), Oslo Region European Office (ORE) and representatives of Akershus Youth Council met to discuss the progress of the NEGOTIATE project.

The overarching aim of the meeting was to present the NEGOTIATE research results, discuss how the results could improve the understanding of early job insecurity and the entrance to the labour market in Norway, and how to respond politically to these challenges.

Greta Juul welcomed the national stakeholders and gave a short introduction on the progress of the NEGOTIATE project. Further, NEGOTIATE’s scientific coordinator Bjørn Hvinden underlined the importance of having a close collaboration with stakeholders concerning the NEGOTIATE project results on policy coordination, and the importance of receiving the stakeholders’ perspectives on the research results.

Christer Hyggen presented the results from the NEGOTIATE employer survey, and gave an introduction on the understanding of how early job insecurity can affect individuals’ future carrier. He talked about the history back to the lost generation and the situation today. What do employers emphasise when they are hiring youth, and what kind of political improvements could be recommended?

Further, Janikke Vedeler and Ida Tolgensbakk presented the results from life story interviews the NEGOTIATE team has conducted in seven European countries. The majority of the interviewed people have been, or are still, affected by unemployment or its scarring effects – through economic and social exclusion. Policy recommendations were highlighted in the areas of education, employment services and the practices of employers.

The National stakeholders contributed actively in the discussions, and underlined that the NEGOTIATE research results are important to enhance the knowledge in their own organisations, and to give policy recommendations based on research results.

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Young people walking in street. Photo: colourbox.com

National stakeholders from Switzerland discussed policy-relevant research results

by Greta Juul

Representatives from Swiss public authorities, professional associations, private consultancies as well as of the Association of the Swiss Student Bodies met at the second national stakeholder meeting on the 15th of December 2016 at the University of Basel.

In the first part of the meeting, the invited participants were briefed about the project progress that had been made since the first stakeholder meeting in November 2015 by Christian Imdorf (Co-leader NEGOTIATE at UNIBAS), Lulu P. Shi (PhD student at UNIBAS) and Valentin Kilchmann (MA student at UNIBAS). The presentation included a recap of the aims of the project, and a summary of findings of several deliverables (D3.4, D7.2, D8.2). After presenting policy-relevant research results, the stakeholders were asked to express their views and to engage in a dialogue with the researchers about the assessment of the Swiss labour market in general and the activation measures for youth in particular.

In the second part of the meeting key items as well as first descriptive results from the recruiter survey, which was carried out in May and June 2016 in the four countries Bulgaria, Greece, Norway and Switzerland were presented to the stakeholders. The participants were encouraged to think about issues that they wished to be analysed and to formulate questions, which the researchers could answer with the obtained survey data. The goal is to enhance the communication between academic researchers, experts involved in policy-making and the directly affected in the labour market.

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Parkour youths from Israel and Palestine

Challenges related to labour market entry for youth in Norway

by Greta Juul

The first Norwegian national stakeholder meeting took place on the 19th of January 2016 at HiOA- NOVA with representatives from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (ASD), the Oslo Region European Office (ORE) and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO). The overarching aim was to discuss the most important challenges related to labour market entry for youth in Norway at the moment, how to respond politically to these challenges and discuss the research methods.

NOVA expressed its gratitude to the participants for their willingness to share their expertise with the NEGOTIATE research team. This was followed by three brief presentations covering (i) the research questions and overall framework of the NEGOTIATE project, (ii) the use of experiments and (iii) life course interviews. Both the presentation of the experiments and the life course interviews addressed how these two methods served to operationalize the larger questions addressed in the project. Following the presentations, the NEGOTIATE team discussed with the stakeholders how to deal with specific challenges in the project. The stakeholders generously provided important ideas and support for overcoming practical challenges related to recruitment, sampling and data collection in the life course interviews and the vignette experiments.

The NSCs were challenged to give their view on the most important challenges for youth in relation to the labour market in Norway and political responses to these. The NSC expressed concerns that the observed challenges for youth in the labour market are not an artefact of business cycles, but rather a result of structural changes in the organization of labour as a result of globalization. The NSC agreed on several aspects of both the challenges and the political responses. It was argued that there are several related challenges. In Norway one of the greatest concerns is related to the stable share of young people who do not finish upper secondary school, a parallel decrease in the share of jobs open for low-skilled workers and an increasing competition for these jobs due to labour migration. This may put pressure on, not only the youth’s opportunities in the labour market, but also on the working conditions in these jobs. Another acute challenge in the Norwegian labour market is related to the inclusion of non-EU immigrants and refugees. Moreover, the increase in poor mental health among the young is of great concern. There is a rising number of young people receiving disability benefits, and 60 % of the young recipients report mental health problems.

The most relevant political responses to these challenges are institutional changes of the educational system – downscaling the role of academic subjects in the vocational education and training (VET) system and working to increase the prestige of vocational training programmes and various types of manual labour. In addition, preventive measures to fight poor mental health should be strengthened. It was argued for the need to involve specialists like psychologists and physicians, by among other things strengthening the school based health-services. The stakeholders agreed on the important role of the Norwegian Labour and Welfare administration (NAV) in this field. NAV should be more efficient in terms of helping young adults back into the labour market. A specific critique was directed at the work load of case workers.

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Earnings and labour market volatility

by Greta Juul

Sara_UdGThe Spanish National Stakeholder Committee (NSC) met at the first national stakeholder meeting on the 15th December 2015 at the Catalan Youth Observatory in Barcelona.

The meeting started with a presentation of the NEGOTIATE project by Sara Ayllón Gatnau, University of Girona: what is the main objective, the different partners, the other people involved (the International Advisory Committee, the Youth Panel and the National Stakeholders Committees) and how the different research ideas have been structured in Work Packages. Sara Ayllón Gatnau also briefly explained some of the first results of the project produced in Spain on earnings and labour market volatility and how future deliverables are being developed on the possible relationship of unemployment and precariousness and drugs consumption as well as the reforms that the Spanish government is undertaking to fight against sky-high youth unemployment rates in Spain. From this point, we engaged in a broad discussion of different topics including the participants’ opinion on the Youth Guarantee, the situation of young people as working poor, citizenship rights, stigma/culpability, the future of young people in Spain (fertility, ageing), lack of opportunities, labour market policies that do not seem to work, etc. The meeting moved to a brief brainstorming of ideas of new possible research topics that future H2020 projects could take up, for example, the situation of the free-lancers, the need to propose policies for young people not restricted to “certain ages” but to “certain needs” (life-course policies), an in-depth analysis of the age groups that are being considered as young people in different contexts or the analysis of further promoting initiatives in the field of “social economy” (for example, cooperatives). Finally, the meeting concluded with the participants presenting the topics or new projects they are working on in their institutions (participation in other EU funded projects, new questionnaires, new campaigns that empower young people, etc.).

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Insecurity in early working careers

by Greta Juul

On 4 December the Bulgarian project team organised the first national stakeholder meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria. The meeting began with a brief presentation of the project, made by Prof. Rumiana Stoilova; the main emphasis in the presentation was on the forthcoming surveys of employers and the life course interviews with three generations of Bulgarians who have experienced insecurity in their early working careers.  The head of the Bulgarian project team stressed the importance of dialogue with social partners and their significant role they play as regards the employer experiment and recruitment of respondents for the interviews.

At present, the most important challenge related to labour market entry of youth in Bulgaria is related to the inadequate connection between the labour market and the market of education services. Young people lack adequate practical training; in many cases their knowledge does not match the demands of employers, and the professional orientation they are provided is not adequate. It has been ascertained that the greatest demand on the part of employers is in the IT sectors and outsourcing, but there is a shortage of candidates for these jobs, which require special skills and knowledge of foreign languages. Practically everyone having these required skills is hired. Some of the main indicated challenges facing candidates for first employment are a number of deficiencies in the qualities of young people, such as their lack of initiative and of the desire to acquire training, their high expectations regarding wages, etc.

The attitudes towards the most important policy responses to the challenges of youth unemployment are not uniform. A number of employers in the field of machine building and construction are afraid to leave expensive equipment in the hands of inexperienced young people. The lack of restrictions on inclusion in programmes makes it possible for a person to be included in programmes multiple times, which leads to a series of impermanent jobs and unstable employment. With regard to the “Topic guide for the life-course interviews”, a discussion was held regarding the dimensions of early job insecurity for three generations of Bulgarians. Insecurity was indicated as related to the impossibility to move within the country – due to the official requirement for city residency during the Socialist period – as well as the opening of Bulgarian industries and the market after 1989 and the insecurity of the newly emerging economic structure. The present-day young generation is better informed and has more opportunities but faces unequal chances of success, and hence greater inequality among young people today.

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