Lithuania: Working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Job quality,
  • Published on: 19 December 2013



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Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

Unfortunately, there is very little information in Lithuania giving grounds for objective analysis of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market. We can say that the main problem for a young person is to find a job in Lithuania; however, once in employment, the situation of young workers in Lithuania does not greatly differ by a number of indicators relating to career and employment security in comparison to other age groups of employees.. Available information suggests that the working conditions in Lithuania depend on education level, positions, and economic sectors of employment rather than on employees’ age.

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.

1.1. Career and employment security issues

Before going into analysis of different aspects of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in Lithuania, it is to be noted that there have been no systemic research into working conditions carried out at national level in Lithuania to be used as a basis for assessing working conditions by different social, economic or demographic characteristics of employees. Moreover, there have been no special surveys recently conducted at national or regional levels enabling an assessment of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market and comparison thereof with other age groups of employees. Bearing in mind the shortage of these data, the main source of information used for assessing the working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in Lithuania is the Fifth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS). Where possible, the analysis was supplemented with data provided by the Lithuanian Statistics (STD) and Eurostat. Again, due to insufficient data, the further analysis will cover all employed young persons (between 15 and 30 years old) irrespective of how long ago they entered the labour market. Finally, it should be noted that the main source of information, i.e., the EWCS data, basically reflects the situation of young entrants to the labour market in Lithuania, as the absolute majority of the respondents under 30 years (92%) reported having 0-4 years of work experience, that is having entered the labour market quite recently.

Although temporary employment is not very popular in Lithuania due to legislative restrictions (in 2011, temporary employees in Lithuania, as a percentage of the total number of employees, accounted for as few as 2.8% in the 15-64 age group), the data suggest that younger persons get employed under fixed-term employment contracts in Lithuania considerably more often compared to older employees. According to the Eurostat data, in 2011 temporary employees, as a percentage of the total number of employees in Lithuania, accounted for 8.7% in the 15-24 age group. This indicator in the given age group was about three-and-a-half times the indicator in age group 25-54 (2.4%).

The EWCS data reflect similar trends: in 2010, around 13.1% of employees under 30 were employed under fixed-term employment contracts; this indicator was 9.9% and 8.6% for age groups 30-49 and 50+, respectively.

According to the Eurostat data, younger employees do part-time work in Lithuania also a bit more often. In 2011, 12.8% of employees in age group 15-24 worked on a part-time basis, as compared to 8.0% of employees in part-time jobs in the 25-64 age group.

For most young employees part-time work is not a voluntary choice. This is witnessed by their responses to the question ‘If you had a choice, how many hours per week would you prefer to work?’ More than a quarter (27.7%) of respondents under 30 answered they would prefer to work ‘more than current’, while the portion of those giving the same answer in age groups 30-49 and 50+ accounted for 17.9% and 19.2%, respectively.

In general, it is to be noted that the situation of young workers in Lithuania does not greatly differ by a number of indicators relating to career and employment security in comparison to other age groups of employees. Some indicators even reflect more positive views of young workers in comparison to other age groups. For example, in the age group less than 30 there were more respondents disagreeing to the statement ‘I might lose my job in the next 6 months’ and agreeing with the statement ‘If I were to lose or quit my current job, it would be easy for me to find a job of similar salary’ (see Table 1).

Table 1. Responses of employees to some questions related to their job context
 

Under 30

30-49

50+

Has your salary or income changed in the past year?

4.6% - increased

43.6% - no change

51.8% - decreased

4.9% - increased

28.5% - no change

66.6% decreased

2.9% - increased

23.9% - no change

73.2% - decreased

I might lose my job in the next 6 months

42.7% - agree

20% - neither agree nor disagree

37.3% - disagree

41.1% - agree

25.5% - neither agree nor disagree

33.4% - disagree

37.1 – agree

27.5% - neither agree nor disagree

35.3% - disagree

If I were to lose or quit my current job, it would be easy for me to find a job of similar salary

21.7% - agree

33.1% - neither agree nor disagree

45.2% - disagree

15.3% - agree

25.7% - neither agree nor disagree

59% - disagree

11.1% - agree

13.9% - neither agree nor disagree

75% - disagree

Source: EWCS, 2010

Analysis of earnings by different age groups also showed that in 2010 mean monthly earnings of employees under 30 were insignificantly lower compared to mean monthly earnings of older employees (see Table 2).

Table 2. Mean monthly earnings by age groups in Lithuania in 2010 (EUR)

Less than 30

30-39

40-49

50-59

60+

526

603

556

554

565

Source: Eurostat

Finally, it should be noted that in Lithuania younger workers are equally satisfied with working conditions compared to other age groups. According to the EWCS, roughly 71% of employees under 30 are very satisfied or satisfied with working conditions in their main paid job, whereas age groups 30-49 and 50+ respectively reflect 69% and 73% satisfaction with working conditions (very satisfied/satisfied).

1.2. Skills development

According to the findings of the EWCS, a slightly less than a quarter (24%) of employees under 30 participated in the training paid for by their employer (or by themselves, if self-employed). This portion was insignificantly lower compared to employees in age group 30-39 (26%) and higher compared to employees in age group 50+ (19%). According to the LFS data, in 2011 roughly a third (32.6%) of Lithuanian employees in age group 18-24 participated in education and training. The portion of such employees in age groups 25-54 and 55-74 accounted for 7.6% and 3.9%, respectively.

In addition, younger employees much more favourably viewed their career opportunities in their current workplace. Almost one third (31%) of respondents under 30 agreed to the statement ‘My job offers good prospects for career advancement’, while the share of those agreeing to the statement in older groups accounted for 16% and 11%, respectively. Likewise, a significantly higher portion (34%) of employees under 30 noted that they need further training to cope well with duties. This response was chosen by 18.6% and 8.6% of employees in age groups 30-39 and 50+, respectively.

1.3. Health and well being

Analysis of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in Lithuania related to health and safety at work as well as work organisation has not revealed any significant differences in the working conditions of employees in different age groups. According to the EWCS data, younger employees (less than 30 years old), as compared to employees in age groups 30-49 and 50+, slightly more often indicated that:

  • they work in shifts (26%, 21.3% and 18.1% respectively);

  • their job involves working at a very high speed (56.7%, 47.7% and 31.9% respectively);

  • their job involves complex tasks (63.7%, 53.1% and 54.3% respectively) and working to tight deadlines (60.7%, 47% and 39.2% respectively).

1.4. Reconciliation of working and non-working life

The EWCS suggest that younger employees do not face serious problems in reconciling their family commitments and career. Around four fives (79.4%) of employees under 30 indicated that their working hours fit in very well or well with family or social commitments outside work. These responses were respectively chosen by 72% and 82.1% of employees in age groups 30–39 and 50+.

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

Unfortunately, except information on wages and salaries there is no other information available in Lithuania enabling assessment of existing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market with regard to age ranges or other personal characteristics. According to statistical data, persons less than 30 years old usually are paid lower wages compared to employees in other age groups. For example, in 2010 persons under 20 were paid almost half of the wage level in age group 30-39 (see Table 3). To a certain extent, this situation could be determined by a legislative provision of the Labour Code of the Republic of Lithuania establishing shorter working hours for persons under 18 in Lithuania.

Table 3. Average gross monthly wage by age in Lithuania in 2010

Age

under 20

20–29

30–39

40–49

50–59

60+

Total

Average wage, LTL

1,144

1,879

2,122

1,969

1,952

2,077

1,988

Average wage, €

331,6

544,6

615,1

570,7

565,8

602,0

576,2

Source: STD

As it was mentioned above, there are no statistical data or surveys that would allow an objective assessment of existing differences in working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in terms of gender. Yet, these differences, if any, probably are insignificant. Somewhat more palpable pay gap might be observed in older age groups of employees. For example, according to the STD data, in 2011 the pay gap between men and women was 5.8% in employees under 25 and 16.6% in age group 35-44.

We can say that less qualified young entrants do suffer worse working conditions than more qualified young entrants. This is because less qualified young entrants more often do lower-skilled or unskilled jobs in economic activities such as construction or agriculture which, as a rule, offer poorer working conditions. On the other hand young people with higher educational level but without work experience are often employed in such sectors as public catering (waiters/waitresses, food deliverers, etc.) or trading (sales assistants, etc.), which do not offer very good working conditions, either.

According to the data of the Lithuanian Labour Exchange (LDB), in 2012 every second graduate out of 21 thousand graduates registered with territorial (local) labour exchanges was employed. Graduates of higher education institutions were usually employed in the positions of administrators, sales managers, bookkeepers, engineers. Graduates of vocational schools were mainly employed as sales workers, finishers, cooks, cashing salespersons, car repairers.

Basing on the scarce available information we may conclude that the main factor influencing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market is educational level. Once findings a job, university and college graduates are provided with more or less equal working conditions (or insignificantly poorer) as are older employees.

2.2 Occupational characteristics

Unfortunately, there are no information sources in Lithuania enabling assessment of certain sectors in which young labour market entrants enjoy/suffer better/worse working conditions. We can say that better working conditions (especially, in terms of wages) are more often observed in IT and financial mediation companies where employees are usually paid higher-than-average wages, enjoy wider opportunities, more flexible working time, etc.

Bearing in mind that larger companies usually provide better working conditions in general (both in terms of wages/salaries and training/career opportunities), it is to be presumed that larger companies also provide better working conditions for young labour market entrants in comparison to SMEs.

According to the data of the Structure of Earnings Survey conducted in Lithuania in 2010, there exist extremely sizeable differences in earnings in some occupations within the 20-29 age group. The lowest gross average monthly wage (AMW) was paid to food preparation assistants (LTL894, € 259), and the highest gross AMW was paid to administrative and commerce managers (LTL 3,415, € 990) (see Table 3).

Table 3. Maximum and minimum gross average monthly wage by occupations in the 20-29 age group in 2010 (LTL)

Group of occupations

Gross average monthly wage

Maximum wage
Administrative and commerce managers

3,415

Managers

2,880

Production and specialised services managers

2,827

Minimum wage
Personal service workers

1,024

Cleaners and helpers

942

Food preparation assistants

894

Source: STD

Although the shortage of statistical data does not allow assessing objectively other aspects of working conditions, it is quite probable that, when it comes to occupations of young people, young people in manual occupations have poorer working conditions than young people in clerical occupations. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that clerical workers in general (irrespective of the group of age) are more satisfied with their working conditions in comparison to manual workers (77% of clerical employees on average were very satisfied/satisfied with working conditions as compared to 59% of manual employees).

Unfortunately, the available scarce information on occupational characteristics does not allow making an objective assessment of the existing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market. We can only presume that in this case, same as in the previous one, the educational level of employees plays the main role.

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.

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

In fact, there are no relevant studies or statistical findings which show the evolution of working conditions of young labour entrants in Lithuania in the last five years. Eurofound’s study which touched on wage inequality in EU countries, showed that during the economic downturn rather significant growth in the worst-paid jobs was recorded in Lithuania.

We can say that working conditions of younger employees deteriorated during the economic crisis same as they did in other age groups in Lithuania. Such a situation was mainly caused by reduced wages and salaries (by means of shortened working hours, unpaid working days or decreased bonuses), increased psychological tension at work due to reduced job security, and, in some cases, increased work load due to the reduced number of employees in the workplace. Working conditions are presumed to deteriorate most of all during the crisis for employees (including new entrants to the labour market) working in the sectors worst hit by the economic crisis in Lithuania (e.g., construction, HORECA).

Likewise, it is to be noted that there was a slight increase in the share of young employees working under fixed-term employment contracts in Lithuania during the economic downturn in comparison to the total number of young employees (see Table 4). According to the surveys, employees working under fixed-term employment contracts are provided slightly worse working conditions in comparison to those working under indefinite contracts (due to average lower earnings, fewer possibilities for training and progressing in their career, etc.).

Table 4. Temporary employees as percentage of the total number of employees in Lithuania in 2007 – 2011 (%)

Age

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

15-24 years

9.8

7.3

5.0

7.5

8.7

25-64 years

3.5

2.4

2.3

2.4

2.8

Source: Eurostat

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)

Unfortunately, there are no prospective studies focusing on the expected evolution of employment levels and working conditions of young labour market entrants in Lithuania. Taking into account economic forecasts for the country, in the near future there will hardly be any material changes in the working conditions of employees that have recently entered the labour market in Lithuania. According to macroeconomic forecasts of the Bank of Lithuania, the national GDP is projected to grow in Lithuania in 2013 and 2014 (by 3.1% and 3.8%, respectively) as is the number of the employed (by 1.4% and 1.8%, respectively).

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.

Before analysing recent national measures/initiatives in Lithuania aimed at improving employment opportunities and working conditions for young entrants to the labour market, measures in place before the crisis and currently implemented in the country are basically aimed at increasing employment of young people without paying attention to the quality of jobs and working conditions offered to young people.

1. Measure ‘Support for the First Job’ was launched in Lithuania on 1 August 2012 in order to increase youth employment. Support will be granted to persons from 16 to 29 who have no previous employment experience and access their first jobs under employment contracts. Within the framework of the measures, employers are eligible (after filing an application) to a compensation of a fixed part of wage/salary (i.e., 23.3% of the calculated wage/salary) for a period of up to 12 months. Duration of the measure implementation: 1 August 2012 – 30 September 2015. The measure is financed with ESF funds. The value of the measure is LTL 32 million (EUR 9.3 million). Authority in charge of the measure implementation: the Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania.

2. Project ‘Increasing Youth Employment’ was launched by the LDB on 1 August 2012. The project is financed with EU structural funds. The purpose of the project is to promote youth employment by creating them opportunities to acquire working skills and anchor on the labour market. The project is expected to cover 6,000 young unemployed individuals under 29, of whom 2,500 will participate in the measure ‘support for working skills acquisition’, acquire practical skills in the real workplace and thus improve their chances to be offered permanent jobs, and 3,500 will participate in the measure ‘subsidised employment’. Duration of the measure implementation: 1 August 2012 – 1 September 2013. The value of the measure is LTL 20 million (EUR 5.8 million). The project allocations will be used for wage subsidies to employers who place young persons under 29 starting their working career for the first time according to the acquired qualification or persons who were not working for a long time. Authority in charge of the project implementation: LDB.

Unfortunately, the period of implementation of the measures is too short for assessing effects of the measures on increasing youth employment in the country. In the light of a sizeable decrease in youth unemployment in Lithuania in 2012 (down to 26% comparing to 32-35% in 2010-2011), active labour market policy measures implemented in the country are presumed to have also contributed to this decrease.

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.

To the best of our knowledge, there have been no recent initiatives implemented by social partners in Lithuania in order to improve working conditions amongst young entrants to the labour market.

Commentary by the NC

According to the analysis of surveys and statistical data, working conditions of young entrants are more or less the same as of older employees in Lithuania. The analysis suggests that the working conditions in Lithuania depend on education level, positions, and economic sectors of employment rather than on employees’ age. This conclusion is also supported by high differentiation of wages/salaries by the groups of occupations in age group 20-29 and the fact that clerical workers in general are more satisfied with their working conditions in comparison to manual workers.

On the other hand, the lack of data does not allow an objective assessment of working conditions of employees who entered the labour market less than 1-2 years ago. It is likely that a sizeable portion of individuals falling within the category of young employees (less than 30 years old), which was used for the analysis, have 3-5 years of work experience and, therefore, their views about working conditions and situation in the labour market in general are more positive in comparison to fresh entrants to the labour market.

As it was mentioned above, the absolute majority of measures implemented in the country are aimed at increasing employment of young people instead of improvement of their working conditions.

Rasa Zabarauskaite, Inga Blaziene, Institute of Labour and Social Research of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre

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