Negotiate Overcoming early job-insecurity in Europe
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Consequences of work in deskilling jobs for young people

by Ischi Graus

A new paper shows that work experience in deskilling jobs does not lead to better recruiter’s evaluation and employability.

In the newly appeared working paper titled Explaining employers’ hiring decisions: A comparative study of employers risk assessment the researchers from the University of Basel, University of Luxembourg, HiOA-NOVA, Norway, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Panteion University, have looked into two types of early job insecurity: unemployment spells and work experience in jobs that do not match one’s previously acquired skills (deskilling jobs).

A survey experiment

The objective of the researchers was to investigate the scarring effects of early job insecurity on future employment chances, the researchers have conducted a factorial survey experiment where fictive CVs with experimentally varied employment paths and educational credentials were evaluated by real recruiters hiring for real jobs in regards to the applicant’s employability.

How do recruiters evaluate unemployment periods?

The findings of this study contribute to the understanding of employer-sided provoked scarring effects caused by insecure job experience with regard to country and occupational field specific settings.

When national unemployment rates are at a comparable level, scarring caused by work experience in deskilling jobs seems to be more likely in countries with strong employment protection regulations. Scarring caused by unemployment spells, however, seems to be stronger in countries where the national unemployment rate is relatively low.

In addition, there are also differences on how recruiters in different sector evaluate one’s CV and how one has spent his or her period of unemployment.

Finally, the paper gives grounds for caution when it comes to the debates around active labour market policies. It argues that short-term measures aiming for labour market reintegration may not be most suitable when it doesn’t take job quality into consideration.

The research shows that work experience in deskilling jobs does not lead to better recruiter’s evaluation and employability.

Here you can read the full version of working paper 7.3: Explaining employers’ hiring decisions: A comparative study of employers’ risk assessment.

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Employers’ assessments of young job applicants

by Ischi Graus

A new policy brief suggests that unemployment measures aiming at a quick labour market integration of the young unemployed without the consideration of job quality may not be a sustainable solution.

One of the main goals of the NEGOTIATE project is to better understand how early employment instability and unemployment affect the careers of young job seekers from the perspective of employers.

This particular policy brief covers recruiters’ evaluations of young job applicants in different economic and policy contexts across Europe, in order to gain knowledge on some of the mechanisms behind cross-country variations in the individual consequences of early job insecurity.

The findings were gathered through the distribution of surveys to recruiters, and took account of different markers of early job insecurity, such as unemployment, work experience in deskilling jobs and job hopping. The survey was implemented in five different occupational fields (manufacturing, finance, gastronomy, health and information technology), over four countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Norway and Switzerland).

Penalize applicants with experience in deskilling jobs

Among the main findings are the fact that recruiters penalize job applicants with extensive work experience in deskilling jobs (a job that doesn’t make use of or further train previously acquired qualifications).

The marker of unemployment is more harmful in countries with relatively low unemployment rates (Switzerland and Norway), although the scarring effects of unemployment remain lower in comparison to the effects of deskilling jobs. The strictness of employment protection legislations (which is higher in Norway) and a more pronounced dual VET system also affect the way recruiters consider the young applicants.

In Switzerland upper secondary vocational degree holders are more affected by unemployment scarring than higher education graduates. While in countries where VET credentials are to be trusted by employers to be high, VET graduates generally enjoy a higher employability they are the first ones to face unemployment scarring.

Problematic job hopping

As for the marker job hopping, it is to be considered more problematic than unemployment in all four of the surveyed countries. In Greece, 57% of the recruiters showed unconditional reservations towards job hoppers while only 9% towards the unemployed.

With regards to activities during non-employment, recruiters would value most when job applicants have used that period enrolled in occupation specific further education. No explanation on what a person has done during his or her period of unemployment is assessed strongly as being negative, especially in Norway and Switzerland.

Focus on quality jobs

These findings demonstrate that scarring effects resulting from various early job insecurities are not necessarily driven by the same institutional forces.

The fact that deskilling jobs appear to have strong negative consequences for young job applicants contributes to the debate on labour market activation policies.

Unemployment measures aiming at a quick labour market integration of the young unemployed without the consideration of job quality may not be a sustainable solution, as deskilling jobs may be dead-end jobs that don’t help to increase, but might even decrease young people’s employability.

Here you can find the full version of policy brief 6: Employers’ assessments of young job applicants: Findings from a comparative study.

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Scarring effects of early job insecurity in five European countries

by Ischi Graus

A new policy brief shows that bad luck in the timing of labour market entry can scar future careers of school leavers in countries across Europe.

The main objective of the Negotiate project is to investigate the long-term consequences of youth unemployment. The main findings show that on the macro-level bad luck in the timing of labour market entry can scar future careers of school leavers in countries across Europe over the long run.

The three in-depth country studies show both converging and complementary gender effects on the underlying process of scarring. However, more intersectional analyses of scarring processes is needed in which the interlocking effects of gender and education is taken into consideratio

With regards to the complexity of scarring, it appears that psychological wellbeing can act as both a consequence and as a moderator of scarring, which two of the researches on the complex relationship between employment experience and psychological wellbeing suggest.

The newly published policy brief covers the scarring effects of entering the labour market during a recession and being exposed to unemployment early in one’s career. This affects not only the short-term prospects, but may rather lead to long-term consequences for future job prospects and labour market integration.

The researchers involved in the project have simultaneously applied micro- and macro-level analyses drawing a differentiated and multifaceted picture of the scarring effects from a European comparative perspective. By using datasets such as the ‘European Labour Force Survey’ (EU-LFS) cross-national comparative results of long-term scarring were mapped, covering data from Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the United Kingdom to measure the aggregated employment insecurity and labour market entry experienced by different cohorts of school graduates.

The interesting thing about looking at data covering these five countries is that they differ greatly when it comes to the institutional and economic dimensions. These are assumed to lead to cross-nationally distinct patters in scarring effects: the vocational orientation of their educational systems, the strictness of employment protection legislation, their active labour market policies and the general prevalent youth unemployment.

All in all, there is no denying that entering the labour market at a bad time leads to adverse consequences for the careers of young people. However, there’s no consistent evidence for the expected impact of institutional and economic country contexts. This suggests that there is currently a theoretical deficit and hence a lack of really grasping the main drivers of scarring in different contexts.

Negotiate has expanded the knowledge of scarring mechanisms, and has identified a theoretical deficit in drivers under different contexts.

Accumulation of insecurity in the labour market over time is of importance to explain why some groups are more at risk of scarring than others. Therefore, when designing labour market regulations and active labour market policies the career trajectories should be taken into account rather than single jobs spells by focusing on trajectories instead of transitions, different approaches to and activation could emerge.

Read the policy brief: ‘Long term consequences of early job insecurity’.

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Presentation of NEGOTIATE policy proposals in Peru

by Greta Juul

Negotiate researcher Kjetil K. Boehler presented findings from the life course interviews at meeting in Lima.

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.

Employment services
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.

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Transitions to adulthood in the context of economic crisis

by Ischi Graus

The fourth NEGOTIATE policy brief focuses on the impact of the Great Recession in Europe.

Our researchers have explored the variability of unemployment and other employment insecurity indicators across countries and regions to identify patterns of school enrollment and fertility.

The main finding is that young Europeans between 16 and 29 years old are more likely to enroll in education when the labour market is dealing with the effects of a recession. However, boys and girls in households at the lowest end of the income distribution are significantly less likely than their richer counterparts to be enrolled in education, especially tertiary education during the financial crisis.

Job insecurity cannot unequivocally be related to fertility or choosing to become a parent. There appears to be a large heterogeneity among the different age groups, situations and countries. Only unemployment for males between the ages of 25 and 34 years have negative effect on their fertility decisions. There is a distinctive pattern between those who manage to convert their initial conditions by undertaking different actions and improving their prospects for education, employment and family formation, and those who do not manage to improve their prospects.

Within the two groups of patterns, we identified subgroups based on different mechanisms that have a significant role for (non) realisation of goals. Poverty and lack of income are the most important aspects causing marginalisation and social exclusion of young people, especially when they do not have networks coming to their aid to find work and when little or no support is given by civic organisations and state institutions.

Regarding gendered labour marker outcomes, women face considerable more difficulties when it comes to seeking satisfying employment. Especially for single parents the lack of institutional support can lead to extreme job insecurity and difficulties when raising children. It’s only the Norwegian interviewees that do not consider young children or care responsibilities as being a hindrance to their participation in the labour market.

Among the youngest interviewed women they asses themselves as being at a lower social position than their mothers, and that it is difficult to start a family at an early age while enjoying the security of a guaranteed permanent working contract and wage. There are also cases of upward social mobility where daughters received a higher level of education than their mothers.

Policy recommendations

Viewed from the perspective of young European the following policy recommendations are shaped;

  • Increase the possibilties for skills training and lifelong learning;
  • Increase the state support for young parents;
  • Increase the opportunities for active agency for young people;
  • Elaborate work-family policies;
  • Highlight and motivate the significant role of employers;
  • And take into account the interrelation between different aspects of well-being.

In addition, volunteering emerges as good opportunity for involving young people in the labour market increasing their social embeddedness and decreasing the risk of marginalization and social inclusion.

The analysis is based on public survey data from seven counties: EU-Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), the EU-Labour Force Survey (LFS) and several waves of the Eurobarometer Survey on ‘Young people and drugs’. In addition, they also collected qualitative data through the 209 semi-structured life-course interviews with women and men belonging to three birth cohorts (1950-55, 1970-75, 1990-95) in seven EU countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Download the policy brief: Negotiate Policy Brief NO4.2_Transitions to adulthood in the context of economic crisis

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