National Research and Development Institute for Environmental Protection, Romania: Recruitment
The National Research and Development Institute for Environmental Protection (ICIM) is a national research institute, located in Bucharest, which is coordinated by the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Water Management. The institute carries out complex research studies, commissioned by the ministry, in the field of environmental protection and engineering, focusing on air, water and ecosystems’ management.
ICIM is one of the largest and most prestigious institutes of its kind in Romania. It employs a highly qualified workforce of 250 employees, organised into specialised teams of researchers as follows:
- 36 senior scientific researchers (first degree);
- 24 senior scientific researchers (second degree);
- 18 senior scientific researchers (third degree);
- 12 junior scientific researchers;
- 40 assistant researchers;
- 120 personnel with a secondary school education.
In relation to the age profile of the workforce, 61 employees are between 25 and 45 years of age, while 189 employees are aged over 45 years.
The institute’s hiring policy in relation to research personnel aims at rebalancing the age structure of the workforce through the recruitment of university graduates with accredited and high-standard educational qualifications. An ongoing concern of the institute is increasing the professional capabilities of its employees, as well as its range of diversified domains.
The representative trade union at the institute has considerable influence in the decision-making process within the organisation. As the majority of employee representatives are themselves over 45 years of age, they are in a better position to identify and protect employees’ priorities and rights because of their extensive levels of experience.
Good practice today
Given the current unfavourable economic climate, the institute has implemented a redundancy policy which it considers to be most effective at present. Accordingly, it has decided to retain its older workers, due to their considerable experience and professional aptitudes and their value to the overall competitiveness of the institute. The main actors involved in implementing these measures are management, the human resource (HR) department and the trade union.
This measure is based on the provisions outlined in the organisation’s collective work agreement, which stipulates that negotiations have to take place between the board of directors and the employees through their representatives, with the final decision being taken by the institute’s management.
The organisation’s redundancy measures have therefore targeted the younger secondary school graduates and are based on a set of criteria, mainly social measures, taking into account issues such as:
- whether the measure possibly affects both spouses who work at the institute, or only one spouse with the lower income;
- if the employee is a single person (either a man or woman, widow/widower, or divorced person) who has young children to care for – in this case, they should not be dismissed;
- special protection which was to be given to those who had less than three years left before reaching retirement age.
In relation to gender equality, there was a degree of ‘positive discrimination’ towards women in the sense that they were afforded higher protection against the redundancies by enabling them to retain their existing jobs.
At the same time, as the older employees are considered a valuable asset to the institute, they have been retained by the organisation to work as trainers and to participate in the ‘knowledge transfer’ process with the younger, inexperienced employees between 25 and 45 years of age. Given the number of years that it takes to become an experienced researcher, this measure aims at motivating the older employees to stay with the institute until they reach retirement age; it also helps them to secure various scholarships abroad.
This redundancy measure favours older employees in the sense that they are able to keep their jobs until at least retirement age and even, in exceptional circumstances, after this period, depending on their experience and specialisation. The target group consists of 50 employees – namely senior scientific researchers and personnel with a university degree – aged over 45 years or employees who have three years or less to go before reaching retirement age. Some of the older researchers are also professors and have published scientific works, contributing in this way to the dissemination of information and to the creation of a good, solid information base for their younger colleagues.
Strong points of the abovementioned measure include:
- the increased profitability of the institute due to the higher number of contracts signed by older, more experienced researchers;
- provision of on-the-job training by the older researchers to their younger counterparts;
- greater remuneration for the skilled, experienced researchers according to their increased responsibilities and in line with their higher capabilities.
Weak points of the initiative include:
- the fact that young employees find it difficult to secure a job with the institute because of the narrow specialisation required in this field;
- the general ageing of the workforce.
A concern for the institute’s future is finding new ways to reduce the average age of the workforce without affecting the existing older employees.
Two types of consequences have been observed in relation to the abovementioned measures: in the short term, the institute’s research activities have been disrupted, as has the organisation’s budget, due to the financial compensation given to the dismissed employees; however, in the long term, such measures should contribute to the economic recovery of the organisation.
Contacts: Titel Stanescu, Trade union leader;
Razvan Constantin, Head of Research Programmes Division
Sources: Annual report, internal bylaws, collective work agreement