Negotiate Overcoming early job-insecurity in Europe
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Negotiate at the innovative Youth Expo in Bulgaria

by Greta Juul

Representatives of the Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge participated in the Second Edition of the innovative Youth Expo.

The Expo was organized by the Angel Kanchev University of Ruse and supported by the Ministry of Education and the National Representation of the Student Councils in Bulgaria. The event was held on 12 May, 2017 in the Danube Capital – Ruse.

At this event, a total of 33 participants of universities, academic clubs and schools presented their innovative developments – from the exchange of good pedagogical practices, through drones and robots created in university laboratories, innovative approaches to art therapy, to drawings of microorganisms.

ISSK-BAS presented with its current research and projects related to youth – its social inclusion (project EXCEPT headed by Prof. Maria Zhelyazkova), the transition between education and employment and the overcoming of social inequalities in this transition (Project NEGOTIATE and Bulgarian-Swiss research project headed by Prof. Rumyana Stoilova), as well as its development through lifelong learning (ENLIVEN project headed by Prof. Pepka Boyadjieva).

The team from ISSK-BAS distributed information materials to all participants, concerning the projects (EXCEPT, NEGOTIATE and ENLIVEN). The projects posters attracted the attention of many visitors.

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NEGOTIATE results presented in Brazil

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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The Bulgarian team presented NEGOTIATE papers at a Jubilee conference in Sofia

by Greta Juul

On 10-11 of March 2017, the Bulgarian NEGOTIATE project team took part in a Jubilee conference “HOW WE LIVE TOGETHER: COMMUNITIES, INSTITUTIONS, NETWORKS”. The event was organized by the Department of Sociology at the University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski” (

The NEGOTIATE project team participated with two papers.

Access to higher education

The first paper was presented by Pepka Boyadjieva and Petya Ilieva-Trichkova. Its title was “Social inclusion and social fairness in higher education: Theoretical distinctions and methodological implications”. Its aim was to problematize the access to higher education from a sociological perspective in two of its dimensions: inclusion and fairness. Building upon the John Rawls perspective of “justice as fairness” and Amartya Sen’s idea of justice, it has developed two indexes which reflect these perspectives: index of fairness and index of inclusion.

The paper used data from various surveys such as the EU LFS, Eurostudent, the European Social Survey and the Bulgarian Universities Ranking System and covered a wide range of European countries. The paper identified four patterns of relationship between inclusion and fairness.

Work abroad

The second paper was entitled “Work abroad as an opportunity for overcoming early job insecurity in Bulgaria”. It was presented by Rumiana Stoilova. The aim of this paper was to explain how key socio-demographic variables predict the intention to emigration and the emigration experience of young people. The paper used as a theoretical background the perspective of the life course studies and the social status theories and applied the Bulgarian school-leavers survey (2014) as an empirical basis for the study.

This paper demonstrated that the previous emigration experience is one of the strongest predictors of emigration intentions. It also showed that the unemployment status increases the likelihood for positive intention for labor emigration and economic inactivity increases the chances to have previous emigration experience. These conclusions contribute to the debate about the high rates of NEETs in Bulgaria.

Words by Petya Ilieva-Trichkova

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Policy coordination and the implementation of the Youth Guarantee (YG)

by Greta Juul

The second Negotiate national stakeholder meeting took place on November 27th 2016 once again at the Representative Office of the ‘Land’ Bremen in Berlin. The meeting brought together social partners, Federal Associations of vocational training providers and welfare organisations, representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the regional government in Bremen (senator) as well as members of Bremen’s Representative Office.

After welcoming the stakeholders and a short introduction, Gabriele Zaremba gave a presentation about the establishment of the Youth Career Agency (YCA) in Bremen. YCAs seek to combine public employment services, educational institutions, youth welfare services and other relevant institutions to provide career guidance for young people as well as access or information to entitlements of benefits. YCAs are implemented in very different ways in the individual federal states and regions. The presentation addressed the challenges and coordination efforts of many actors in establishing such an agency. It was stressed that the successful implementation needs uniform criteria on what is considered as YCA as well as strong political initiative and support also from national level to secure its existence in the long-term.

Subsequent to the discussion on the YCA, Irene Dingeldey presented first preliminary Negotiate project results on policy coordination and the implementation of the Youth Guarantee (YG) in nine European countries. The presentation addressed challenges and illustrated different YG implementation strategies across countries. Common challenges included the varying standards and diverse realization of YG programs across regions as well as low sustainability of measures due to temporarily project funding. Furthermore, the presentation emphasized the distinct economic and institutional conditions countries are facing when implementing the YG.

The National Stakeholder Committee showed great interest in the presentations and provided important advice for further research activities. Lively debates developed during the meeting. The main issues of debate concerning YCAs were about the role of employers regarding the provision of training positions. Furthermore, it was discussed how the YCA could be more successful in approaching and counselling young people. With regard to different YG implementation strategies, the debate concentrated on whether dual vocational training is a solution to low youth unemployment rates. Subsequently, the connection between the tendering practice of some YG measures and low wages for project staff was discussed.

Words by Lisa Steinberg

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Young man at job interview. Photo: colourbox

Briefing paper 3: Need for good quality jobs

by Agata Patecka

The third NEGOTIATE briefing paper "The need for good quality jobs - youth unemployment from a well-being perspective" presents research findings on the effects of unemployment on situation of youth.

Since the outbreak of an economic crisis, rates of unemployment went up having a direct impact on youth. Young people’s autonomy became heavily jeopardized as in many countries they are not entitled to benefits when unemployed. Youth with low level of education, with immigrant background,have some kind of disability, have experienced the divorce of their parents or live in jobless and poor households are much more likely to be unemployed. Experiencing periods of unemployment has an impact on future of employment and wages. Being exposed to a recession may have an impact on beliefs about life chances, and it makes people believe that succeeding in life depends more on luck than on effort.

One of the findings suggests to intensify efforts to reduce unemployment among young people. However, taking up “any kind of employment” is not favorable from the well-being perspective. Researchers stress the positive role of quality employment and decent jobs and negative role of job-deprived ares in relation to reducing youth unemployment.

Read the policy brief: “The need for good quality jobs – youth unemployment from a well-being perspective”

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