Greece: Working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Job quality,
  • Published on: 07 Styczeń 2014



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The crisis mainly affects young people up to 29 years of age while the measures adopted in the context of Memorandums 1, 2 and 3 abolish acquired rights and benefits of young workers.

Introduction

This EWCO CAR is specifically focused on the group of “young entrants to the labour market”. This group includes all young people (between 15 and 30 years old) who have recently entered into the labour market (i.e., people with a work experience shorter than 1-2 years in the labour market), with relative independence of their age and for whom work is their main and core activity. This definition excludes young people for whom studies are their main activity but who combine their studies with some remunerated activity as part of their training programmes (e.g. apprenticeships in dual systems), as well as unemployed young people, even if they are actively looking for a job (see Background note for more detailed information on the concept of young entrants to be considered in the research).

The CAR coordinating team is conscious that such as “narrow” definition of “young entrants to the labour market” can make difficult the identification and collection of relevant information on the topic. Therefore, and in the case no national information is available using this “narrow” definition, National Correspondents can use a “proxy” definition of “young entrant to the labour market” as any young person (i.e. between 15 and 30 years old) who is in employment, irrespectively of the number of years of experience that he/she has in the labour market (again, unemployed young people are excluded from the analysis).

The questionnaire focuses on the following topics:

  • General description and characterisation of the main current working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in your country in comparison to other age groups (around 700 words)

  • Identification and characterisation of existing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market in your country (around 600 words)

  • Evolution of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in the last five years. Effects of the economic crisis (around 500 words)

  • Initiatives taken by national governments/social partners in order to improve employment levels and working conditions of young entrants to the labour market (around 500 words)

  • Final commentary on the main results (around 100 words)

Block 1: General description and characterisation of the main current working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in your country in comparison to other age groups

NCs are kindly requested to provide the most updated information (coming from national surveys, administrative registers or ad-hoc national research/studies) on a number of working conditions-related variables specifically related to young entrants to the labour market in comparison to other age groups. Please provide the information only for those variables where significant/important differences, either positive or negative, can be identified in relation to other age groups, stressing the causes and rationale of these differences

Suggested extension of this section: around 700 words

1.1 Career and employment security issues

Important remark: From a methodological point of view, answering to this questionnaire is problematic, because the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.) does not possess any data for those who have up to X years of work experience, but only for those who have been working up to X for the same employer. Consequently, when we refer to young people aged 15-29 with up to 2 years of work experience, we mean with up to 2 years of work experience with the same employer.

Employment status: According to the EL.STAT. data, of the total number of young people aged 15-29 with less than 2 years of work experience with the same employer:

  • 78.2% are salaried workers, 10.3% are self-employed without personnel, 9.9% are assistants in the family business, and 1.6% are self-employed with personnel. For the category of people aged 30+ with less than 2 years of work experience with the same employer, 82.9% are salaried workers, 11.7% are self-employed without personnel, 2.8% are assistants in the family business, and 2,6% are self-employed with personnel.

  • 52.1% have a permanent job, while 26.1% work on a temporary basis. For the category of people aged 30+ with less than 2 years of work experience with the same employer, 53.1% have a permanent job, while 29.7% work on a temporary basis.

  • 80.2% are employed full-time, while 19.8% are employed part-time. For the category of people aged 30+ with less than 2 years of work experience with the same employer, 85.2% are employed full-time, while 14.8% are employed part-time.

Autonomy at work: Nothing was found with respect to the target group. According to the ad hoc survey carried out by EL.STAT. in 2010, titled “Special Survey on reconciling work and family life" (which concerns salaried workers in general, not only those that are of interest in the context of this questionnaire), 71.8% answered that “the time of arrival and departure is determined entirely by the employer”, 20.5% answered that “the working hours are specified, but there is some flexibility in the time of arrival or departure”, 3.3% answered that they have “flexible working hours”, 2.9% did not answer, 1.0% answered that they “determine their working hours themselves”, and 0.6% gave other answers.

1.2 Skills development

There are no quantitative data regarding the extent and the success or the participation rates of the target group in these programs. However, according to the Action Plan for the Promotion of Employment and Entrepreneurship of Young Persons of January 2013, the actions that have been designed and are to be implemented through the operational programs of the Ministries of Labour, Education and Development in year 2013 have a 600 million Euros budget and concern 350,000 beneficiaries.

1.3 Health and well being

There is not any survey on health and safety at work which refers specifically to the target group.

According to the available data from the Labour Inspectorate, fatal accidents occur among the paid employees aged over 25 years and mainly in the age group 45-54 where accidents occur 2 times compared with other age groups. No fatal work accident for the people aged 18-24 years was registered with the Labour Inspectorate for the year 2011.

Table 1: Fatal work accidents announced to the Labour Inspectorate, 2011

Age

Total

Percentage %

<=17

0

0.00

18-24

0

0.00

25-34

14

20.00

35-44

13

18.57

45-54

28

40.00

55-64

14

20.00

>=65

1.

1.43

Total

70

100

Source: Report of the Proceedings of the Labour Inspectorate, 2012

1.4 Reconciliation of working and non-working life

There are not any surveys regarding the issue of balancing professional and family life especially for the target group. The most recent survey, which however regards all the age categories (in few questions there is an aged-based distinction), is the ad hoc survey of 2010 that was carried out by EL.STAT.,titled “Special Survey on reconciling work and family life”. According to this survey, 4.4% of male respondents discontinued their work to take care of young children and 22.3% of female respondents discontinued their work to take care of young children. In the age group 15-24, 20.1% answered that they discontinued their work to take care of young children. Moreover, according to this survey, 77.1% of respondents aged 15-24 answered that “they would not seek work or full-time employment if there were proper childcare facilities", while 20.00% answered that “they would seek work or full-time employment if there were proper childcare facilities”.

Block 2: Identification and characterisation of existing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market in your country

NCs are kindly requested to provide the most updated information (coming from national surveys, administrative registers or ad-hoc national researches/studies) on differences of working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market, for a series of variables. Please provide the information only for those variables where significant/important differences, either positive or negative, can be identified, stressing the causes and rationale of these differences

Suggested extension of this section: around 600 words

2.1 Personal characteristics of young entrants

The Ministerial Decision 6/2012 foresees that from 14 February 2012 the minimum limits of salaries and wages specified under the National General Collective Labour Agreement of 15 July 2010 shall be reduced by 22%. As regards young persons under 25 the respective reduction amounts to 32%. This means that as regards young people under 25 years of age, the new minimum salary is set at 510.95 Euros, while for blue-collar workers under 25 years of age the minimum daily wage is set at 22.83 Euros. According to official statistical data the crisis affected mostly young men up to 29 years of age, whose participation corresponds to ¾ of the total change among young people. Young workers in certain regions of Greece are facing particular challenges, as the unemployment rate is particularly high there. More specifically, according to Eurostat data, in certain regions of Greece, total unemployment is higher than the country’s average and in those regions youth unemployment is equally high. For instance, the unemployment among young people (15-24) is 35.2% in Western Macedonia, 34.2% in Epirus, and 31.5% in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

2.2 Occupational characteristics

Young people aged 15-29, with less than two years of work experience with the same employer: - make up 41.7% of the young people aged 15-29.- who are employed full-time make up 38.7% of young people aged 15-29 who are employed full-time.

  • who are employed part-time make up the 19.8% of the young people aged 15-29 who are employed part-time.

  • who are permanently employed make up 36.1% of young people aged 15-29 years who are employed on a permanent basis.

  • who are employed on a temporary basis make up 74.3% of the young people aged 15-29 who are employed on a temporary basis.

Block 3: Evolution of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in the last five years. Effects of the economic crisis

NCs are kindly requested to provide information on the following items: NCs are kindly requested to provide information (coming from national surveys, administrative registers or ad-hoc national researches/studies) on differences of working conditions amongst the group of young entrants to the labour market in comparison to the situation five years ago. Please provide the information only for those variables where significant/important differences, either positive or negative, can be identified, stressing the causes and rationale of these differences

Suggested extension of this section: around 500 words

3.1 Please provide information on the evolution of working conditions of young labour entrants in the last five years. Have working conditions of this group improved/deteriorated in comparison to the existing situation five years ago (before the economic crisis began)? What are the reasons for these changes

Figure 1: Employment and employment rate of young people aged 15-29 with up to two years of work experience with the same employer, 2008-2012


Source: EL.STAT., LFS 2008-2012, processing: G. Kritikidis, Labour institute/Greek General Confederation of Labour

There is a significant reduction in employment of the target group in relation to 2008 by 47%, resulting in a reduction of the rate of employment of the target group in the total population of young people from 15 to 29, which decreased compared to 2008 by 9,0 percentage points.

Figure 2: Permanent and Temporary employment of young people of 15-29 years of age with up to two years of working experience, 2008-2012


Source: EL.STAT., LFS 2008-2012, processing: G. Kritikidis, Labour institute/Greek General Confederation of Labour

The slight decrease in the proportion of temporary employment for young people compared with 2008 due to the fact that both the permanent and the temporary employment of the target group fell almost to the same extent (49% permanent employment and 52% temporary employment).

Figure 3: Full time and Part time employment of young people aged 15-29 with up to two years of work experience with the same employer, 2008-2012


Source: EL.STAT., LFS 2008-2012, processing: G. Kritikidis, Labour institute/Greek General Confederation of Labour

The increase in the percentage of part-time target group compared with 2008 due to the significant reduction in full-time 52%, while the total part-time employment decreased over the same period at a rate of 6%.

3.2 Based on possible existing prospective studies, please provide information on the expected evolution of employment levels and working conditions of young labour market entrants in your country in the near future (coming 2-3 years)

No relevant surveys were found apart from that of IME/GSEVEE. According to the economic climate survey of the Institute of Small Enterprises of the Greek General Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (IME/GSEVEE), in terms of forecasts for the first half of 2013, 64,000 positions of salaried employment are expected to be lost in the craft industry and the trade.

Block 4: Initiatives taken by national governments/social partners in order to improve employment levels and working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

4.1 Identify main recent national measures/initiatives (1-2) put in place in your country by public authorities in order to improve employment opportunities and working conditions for young entrants to the labour market.

A series of successive regulations that have come into force in the last two years provided for a drastic reduction of the wage cost that the employment of young persons under 24 or 25 years of age would entail for employers. Some of these regulations provided also for subsidised insurance of the workers in question. The declared purpose of the related regulations was to provide incentives to employers for the employment of young people, in order for the latter to gain work experience (12-month or longer), the lack of which was considered the main reason for the particularly increased levels of unemployment in these ages. The most recent related regulation is included in the Act of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 6/28.2.2012, which provides for a general reduction, by 22%, of the minimum limits of wages and day wages set by the National General Collective Employment Agreement (EGSSE), while especially for young people under 25 years of age an additional 10% reduction is provided for, resulting in an overall reduction of remuneration by 32% as regards this age group. Based on this reduction, for young people who are subject to the EGSSE the basic wage is fixed in the gross amount of 510.95 Euros (and in the net amount of 425.85 Euros), and the basic day wage in the gross amount of 22.83 Euros (and in the net amount of 19.06 Euros). Furthermore, also before 2010, initiatives were taken towards the direction of addressing or mitigating the problem of unemployment among young people, with a significant relief or even release of employers from the cost of employment of young workers. Such was also the program of the Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED), which started in late 2008 and continued until 2010, titled “a beginning, an opportunity” for the employment of approximately 40,000 young people under 25 years of age annually. In the context of the individual project entitled "preparatory work", which was included in the said program, OAED undertook entirely the wage and insurance cost of the young worker for a period of 5 months.

As for the rest:

According to the action plan of January 2013 for supporting employment and entrepreneurship among young people, the following programs are to be implemented or are being implemented by the Ministry of Labour:

1. Cheque of entry in the labour market for unemployed young people of up to 29 years of age (beginning in the 1st quarter of 2013). It includes a complete set of interventions through the issuing of a voucher for: Training up to 100 hours (horizontal and specialised skills) in combination with guidance / educational mentoring; Traineeships / Work experience for 5 months; Subsidy of the enterprises that will convert the traineeship into an employment contract, with coverage of employer contributions for one year. Beneficiaries will be: Unemployed graduates of Higher Education Institutions/Technological Education Institutions of up to 29 years of age.

2. Promotion of the innovative entrepreneurship of young people and advisory guidance of entrepreneurs (beginning in the 1st quarter of 2013).The programme’s objective is the financial support of innovative business initiatives of unemployed young people, as well as their advisory support through mentoring, at the stage of establishment of the new enterprise, on the one hand, and during its operation, on the other hand. Beneficiaries will be: Unemployed persons of up to 35 years of age.

3. Entrepreneurship in the countryside (beginning in the 1st quarter of 2013). The programme’s objective is the promotion of unemployed persons of up to 35 years of age in employment, through the improvement of their skills in the agricultural - food sector and the provision of advisory support for undertaking a business activity in the primary sector. Beneficiaries will be: Unemployed persons of up to 35 years of age.

4. Community service programs in the culture sector for young persons (beginning in the 1st quarter of 2013). The programme’s objective is the employment of unemployed people in co-financed projects of construction, promotion and maintenance of cultural infrastructures, as well as in services of guarding archaeological sites and museums, addressing needs of the competent services and institutions of the Ministry of Culture that are not characterized as fixed and permanent and cannot be covered by the existing permanent staff. Beneficiaries will be: Unemployed persons of up to 30 years of age.

5. Business subsidy programme for hiring unemployed graduates of higher education institutions (currently implemented). The programme’s objective is the creation of new full-time jobs in private enterprises and private-sector employers in general, by hiring unemployed persons of up to 35 years of age, who hold a first degree, master's degree or Ph.D. of Greek Higher Education Institutions/Technological Education Institutions, or an equivalent degree of foreign universities.

6. Pilot project for supporting young people in creating Social Co-operative Enterprises (beginning in the 1st quarter of 2013). The project’s objective is to promote the social economy and social entrepreneurship as tools for staving off unemployment and promoting social cohesion. The program will be implemented with the direct financing of Social Co-operative Enterprises (SCE) that are established under Law 4019/2011, as it is in force, with the parallel creation of mechanisms to support each stage of operation of the SCE.

7. Support of Enterprises for the employment of highly qualified personnel (currently implemented). The project’s main objective is the improvement of access to employment, the increase of vocational integration and the prevention of unemployment of researchers, through the acquisition of work experience in enterprises. It includes: Employment for research activities in enterprises of all sectors of the economy, lasting 18 to 36 months. Beneficiaries will be: Unemployed researchers and technical staff (graduates of Higher Education Institutions or Technological Education Institutions) of up to 35 years of age.

4.2 Identify main recent initiatives (1-2) put in place in your country by social partners (either at national, sector or company level) in order to improve working conditions amongst young entrants to the labour market.

A project of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) titled “Innovative entrepreneurship – hosting and sponsorship of new business initiatives”. This initiative is implemented in the context of the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” and is co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund) and by national resources. SEV, in collaboration with Universities and Research Centres, takes an initiative for Innovative Entrepreneurship, aiming at encouraging new scientists and at familiarizing them with entrepreneurship. The initiative focuses on creating a climate of cooperation between the academic and the business community. It aims at providing services and transferring know-how to young scientists - aspiring entrepreneurs, in order for them to turn their business ideas into thorough and useful business plans. It includes the following key actions: Hosting in spaces jointly agreed with the universities and selected because they are spaces that attract newly established high-technology enterprises (e.g. scientific parks); Administrative support and access to telecommunication networks; Guidance and monitoring by a team of executives with proven expertise in the utilisation of business ideas; Access to specialised databases; Internal meetings for the transfer of experience and knowledge, thematic events, etc.; Mentoring; Advisory Support; Training.

The Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) has established a special Secretariat for young workers, that deals with the situation experienced by young workers (including aspects such as part-time and temporary employment, uninsured labour and deregulation of the labour market), taking actions and initiatives to place emphasis on those issues. The Secretariat of Young Workers also represents the GSEE before entities which it is a member of, such as the National Youth Council (ESYN) and the Youth of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC); takes initiatives in Greece and in Europe; co-operates with other youth organizations and networks so that there be an exchange of views and opinions, which helps in acquiring a better knowledge of modern working conditions and in finding effective solutions; co-operates with the other Secretariats of the GSEE on matters concerning young people; is in constant contact with young students, immigrants, unemployed etc; promotes the participation of young people to the trade-union training programs implemented by the GSEE.

Commentary by the NC

According to the trade unions, despite the provision of strong financial incentives for the employment of young workers, the acute problem of unemployment among young people under 25 years of age not only was not solved or mitigated, but not even remained at the same levels in which it was before these regulations. This happened because, obviously, the causes and the dealing with the problem of youth unemployment are not found in the reduction of the cost of their employment, but are deeper and more complex. Besides, over time, the cost of employment of young workers was in any case considerably lower compared to the cost of employing older workers, taking into consideration the fact that young people, as a rule, have no or have less family burdens, previous experience and seniority and, therefore, do not receive the corresponding allowances increasing the basic wage.

In many enterprises, such as advertising businesses, for example, the programmes of subsidised jobs for young people are turned to advantage, and the majority of the personnel may be apprentices and subsidised employees. Particularly in the context of the crisis, the phenomenon of older workers with more experience being dismissed in order for subsidised employees to be hired is observed.

Sofia Lampousaki, Labour Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE)

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