Norway: Working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

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



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In Norway, some nine out of ten young workers between 16-30 years say that they are fairly or very satisfied with the job. Young workers reports three times more often to work on temporary contracts than other age groups, and do also more often report to work without a written contract. The youngest workers are to a greater degree than other age groups in occupations with less educational requirements, and are in general more often exposed to several physical work environment factors. They also more often have poorer organizational working conditions than other employees. Young workers are a stated priority group of the authorities and social partners.

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

To our knowledge, no national information is available for the “narrow” definition of “young entrants to the labour market”, as mentioned above. Data presented in this CAR are given for young individuals between 16 and 30, and in especially 16-24 years old who are in employment, irrespectively of the number of years of experience that he/she has in the labour market.

1.1 Career and employment security issues

According to figures from the Level of Living Survey (LKU) 2009 survey (conveyed by Statistcs Norway, comprising telephone interviews with more than 9,000 workers and representing a response rate of 60.9), 88% of the male and 86% of the female workers between 16-24 years are fairly or very satisfied with their job. Greatest job satisfaction is found among artists (text / music / scene / photo) and different types of leaders. The profession where most are dissatisfied with their jobs are cleaners (8%). Over 80 percent of all Norwegian workers reports that they experience a high degree of belonging to the company they work for. Among workers aged between 16-24 years the proportion are lower, where 73% and 68% of the men and women reported this. Unlike in many other countries, the share of temporary employees in Norway has been relatively stable over the past decade. Young workers reports significantly more often to work on temporary contracts than other age groups. Among young workers (16-24 years), the proportion of temporary employees is 27 percent, compared with about ten percent for all workers. The slightly higher proportion of temporary employment among those with the shortest education can be attributed to nearly half of those in the 16-24 age group belong to this group. The proportion of employees working without a written employment contract has also declined substantially over the past decade. In 2009 it was still the youngest workers that more often reported to work without a written contract, but the reduction applies to all age groups. According to figures from Statistics Norway, the number of actual working hours per week was 29.4 and 22.6 hours for men and women aged 16-24 years, respectively. Average working hours for all age groups were 37.8 and 30.8 hours, respectively.

1.2 Skills development

According to figures from LKU 2009, around one in three of workers between 16-24 years reported that they have to perform tasks they feel they have received insufficient training for, at least a couple times a month or more. It is preferably workers within education (15%) and health and social services (16%) most frequently reporting that they need further training to handle their job tasks. Several studies in the field have also concluded that highly educated employees to a far greater extent report that they have opportunities for professional development, compared to workers within lower education groups (Ward et al., 2009). The proportion of young workers who receive training paid for by the employer increased in Norway during the period 2005-2010 increased, and data also show that there is a slightly higher proportion of younger workers, full-time workers and employees on permanent contracts that received education paid for by the employer, compared with other groups.

1.3 Health and well being

According to LKU 2009, one in two workers between 16-24 years' experience either often or very often that it is necessary to work at fast pace, and four out of ten say they at least once a week have so much to do that they must skip luncheon, work beyond normal working hours or take their work back home. At the same time, 20 percent report that they often or very often experience intrusive interruptions in the work. 46% of male and 45% of female workers between 16-24 years also say they only to a small degree could decide their own work tasks. The total percentage reporting that they receive social support from colleagues or manager and feedback from superiors has declined slightly from 2006 to 2009. Fair management, work results being appreciated by the immediate management and feedback are in general experienced to a greater degree by male workers than female workers. At the same time, workers between 16-24 years reports positive social relationships at work to a higher degree than all other age groups. While 92% of male and 87% of female workers between 16-24 years reported that they often received social support from colleagues, the average for the other age groups was 83 and 84%, respectively. In terms of social support from supervisors, the figures were 80 and 77% for the youngest age group, compared with an average of 70% and 71% for the other age groups.

1.4 Reconciliation of working and non-working life

Data from 2009 show that LKU work outside regular (6-18) working hours is more common among 16-24 years old women (48.4%) than among men (21%). Night work is on the other side slightly more common among men (10.3% versus 9.7% among women). Long work weeks (more than 45 hours per week) are also more common among men (10.6% versus 2.1% among women), and the length of the working week increases with the length of the education. When looking at the proportion workers between 16-24 years who feel that the demands of the job affects their private life, we see that this is somewhat higher among men (9.3 % versus 7.2 % among women). However, the proportion who report that they are contacted by the job outside regular working hours is higher among women (32.7 5) than among men (29.9%).

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

According to figures from LKU 2009, women consistently report lower levels of control than men, and workers in the youngest age groups (16-24 years) in general differ from the other age groups. There are more pronounced differences in perceived control between the various educational groups, and the percentage that experience low control, declines with increasing length of education. Women report more frequently than men of less ability to control the pace of work (27% versus 16%). This seems to apply in most professions. If we look at the proportion of young workers who feel that their job affects their private life, we see that this increases with length of the education and age. At the same time, the proportion who feel the job affects their private life, is almost twice as high for workers aged 25-30 years than for workers between 16-24 years for both men (17.1% versus 9.3%) and women (14.4% versus 7.2%). A reoccurring pattern for several of the physical work environment factors is that there are more young workers who report being affected than older ones. This may be reason for concern when it comes to factors that can trigger chronic health problems, such as excessive noise or arm and hand vibration. Some of the biases in the age distribution may be because many are in education until they are 25 years of age. Thus there will be relatively fewer with administrative and academic education and correspondingly more with manual work among the young workers.

2.2 Occupational characteristics

Figures from LKU 2009 and Statistics Norway, shows that the youngest workers (16-24 years) to a greater degree than the workers in the other age groups are in occupations with less educational requirements. About half of young men between 16-24 years, works as shop workers, craftsmen, industrial workers or as security- and safety staff. Among the youngest women (16-24 years) one in two works as store employees, with nursing and care, as waiter / hairdresser, as chef and kitchen assistant, as teachers, with children and young people or within cleaning professions. A recurrent pattern for most mechanical exposures is that the proportion of workers reporting to be exposed, is larger among younger (16-24 years) than among workers in other age groups. The difference between male and female workers in this age group is less striking, although heavy lifting is more prevalent among men. In general, we find most mechanical exposure among the young workers with shorter length of education. An exception is work with display screen and keyboard, which is most prevalent among the workers with education at secondary level, college or university for four years. Highest levels of mechanical exposures for young workers are found in a variety of male-dominated skilled and unskilled manual occupations: carpenters / woodworkers, plumbers / construction craftsmen, mechanics / welders / disc and engineering workers, road / construction / stone / masonry workers and in several female-dominated health - and service occupations: cleaners, hairdressers, service personnel in hotels and restaurants, medical / dental assistants and health care workers. From 2005-2010, the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority received 562 reports of work-related illnesses among young workers. A large proportion of these were skin disorders and hearing damage. Many workers in hairdressing reported skin diseases, while noise damage was reported by workers in industry and construction. The most frequently reported occupations regardless of industry were hairdressers, carpenters, electricians and auto mechanics (Labour Inspectorate, 2011b).

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

From fall 2008 to spring 2009, it appeared that the downturn in the world economy also had an impact on participation in Norway, but unlike the rest of Europe, figures from Statistics Norway showed that the level of job insecurity of Norwegian workers has changed very little from 2007 to 2012. An analysis of young workers situation in the labour market performed by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority (Lysberg, et al, 2012) and other available data from Statistics Norway (e.g. LKU 2006, LKU 2009), likewise indicates that the financial crisis has not affected the working conditions of young workers in any major way for the last five years.

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 prospective studies on expected evolution for young Norwegian labour market entrants were found.

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.

Youth are a priority group for the government, and in recent years a number of guarantees that are directed specifically at this group have been introduced. The measures are intended to secure young people activity to protect them from ending up outside the labour market and the education system, and thus in a state of passivity. In 2007, a youth guarantee was introduced that provides all unemployed youths under 24 are entitled to labour market programs. In combination with follow-up warranty, youngsters get right to extended follow-up and qualification and / or work-related measures. From 2009 the government introduced a stimulus warranty that will ensure provision of labor market programs for 20-24 year olds who have been unemployed for six months or more. Appropriate incentives to maintain attachment to the labor market in periods as a recipient of social security, may get more people to return to work. Therefore, the government recently has launched a new effort with subsidies to employers to hire individuals who receive rehabilitation funds. The trial began on 1 January 2013 and will run for five years. Young people will be given priority. The trial is to be designed so that parts of employment clarification money will be used as grants to employers to cover part of the salary costs. Both employers and participants at the trial scheme will be followed closely by NAV (The Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration). Participants in the scheme may be employed temporarily for up to three years full-time or part-time. After evaluation of the effect of the warranty, LO (The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the largest workers' organization in Norway) propose in their action program for 2012/2013 that all workers under the age of 25 must be secured a job offer, education or qualifying training within an unemployment period of 3 months. The organization proposes several concrete measures such as faster clarification of the situation of young people with impaired work and health problems, and to ensure that NAV (The Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration) get increased expertise in order to meet the growing number of individuals with multicultural background. Other proposed measures are an increased focus on youth in the qualification program, and ensure an adequate number of apprenticeships.

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.

In the autumn 2011, the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority put special focus on apprentices and young firms in Ungt Entreprenørskap (UE, a member of the worldwide organization JA Worldwide). About 100 inspections were conducted in establishments that had apprentices, to examine how apprentices were attended as employees and to verify that the employer had ensured a good and safe working environment for the apprentices. These inspections received high media attention and led to a greater awareness among school owners about the importance of HSE in education. The feedback from teachers and young business teachers was positive, and it was also stated that it had been very informative, useful and necessary to have been visited by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. In collaboration with other stakeholders, the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority have also initiated several campaigns to raise awareness of young workers, both young adults, but also among employers, and the agency will continue to drive safety campaigns aimed at young workers in industries where they are most frequently represented.

Commentary by the NC

Young workers are a concern of the authorities and social partners, and in the parties' action program it is emphasized that it is important to protect this particularly vulnerable group of workers through legislation, facilitation and awareness activities. A key element of this work is an increased awareness of both the young workers and their employers about the requirements for the working environment and the rights of this group, as awareness of rules and conditions will contribute to young people being better equipped to begin their professional careers. In the strategic action program of The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority for the period 2013-2016, the working conditions of young entrants is one of the focus areas.

References

Lysberg K, Landrø M, Rosenberg Søvik S and Vaeng JH. En analyse av unge arbeidstakeres

situasjon i arbeidslivet, KOMPASS Tema, No. 1, 2012

Bjørn Tore Langeland, National Institute of Occupational Health

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