Questionnaire for EWCO CAR - Working Conditions of Young Entrants

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 12 December 2013



About
Country:
Author:
Institution:

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.

Young entrants in Belgium start often in a temporary job, which creates less workability, more uncertainty and more vulnerability for unemployment. However, most young people succeed in moving to a job with better conditions. Nevertheless, special attention is needed for lower educated young people. For them, it is more difficult to find a good job and this can hamper their further career. National supporting programmes exist, although an recent evaluation shows they should be known better.

QUESTIONNAIRE

NCs are kindly requested to answer to this questionnaire taking into account the information provided in the background note. The answers will be used as input for elaborating the Comparative Analytical Report – Working Conditions of Young Entrants. Correspondents’ contributions will be edited as ‘national contributions’ and published as stand-alone reports on the web.

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)

  • Make a final commentary on the main results (around 100 words)

Please give your answers as specifically as possible for the subheadings (1.1., 1.2.,…) in each block.

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

1.1 Career and employment security issues

  • Satisfaction at work; employment status, presence of precarious and/or atypical forms of employment (temporary workers, part-time, agency work); Pay systems and levels/conditions; Autonomy at work; Fear to lose employment; Working time issues (number of worked hours, working time flexibility), etc

As well in 2007 as in 2011, only about one quarter of the young people (15-24 years old) is working in Belgium. This rather low figure can be explained by the high part of students in this age group. A WSE Report (Knowledge Centre Labour Market) shows that when a net employment rate is calculated, in which the denominator excludes students, the employment rate is more than doubled. The difference between the ‘gross’ employment rate and the ‘net’ employment rate decreases with the age of the group. For the 15-19 years old, the difference is huge. Less than 7% of them are working, which is logical as the compulsory education law in Belgium keeps the young people at the school banks until the age of 18. In the group 20-24 years old, already more young people left school, but the majority is still studying. The gross employment rate is at higher level but the difference with the net employment rate is still large. Only in the age group 25-29 years old the difference between the gross and net employment becomes ignorable. In this age group, almost 90% left school. Table 1 illustrates. As the employment rates of 2011 are very comparable with the figures of 2007, we can suppose that also the net employment rates are similar in 2011.

Table 1 Employment rate of young people (15-29 years old) in Belgium
Comparison of employment rate in the age groups of 15-29 years old, 2007-2011
 

Gross employment rate 2007

Net employment rate 2007

Gross employment rate 2011

15-24 years old

27.5%

70.8%

26.0%

15-29 years old

45.7%

78.3%

n.a.

       
15-19 years old

6.7%

47.5%

6.8%

20-24 years old

45.7%

75.1%

44.0%

25-29 years old

79.4%

81.3%

76.9%

       
15-64 years old

62.0%

n.a.

61.9%

Gross employment rate = number of working people/total number of people in the age group. Net employment rate = number of working people/number of people not at school in the age group

Source: Eurostat LFS, WSE Report,Conseil Supérieur de l’Emploi - Hoge Raad voor de Werkgelegenheid

The Knowledge Centre WSE made an overview of the situation of young entrants on the labour market in comparison with the total group in the same age-category. The study is based on Eurostat LFS, covers 2007 and defined young entrants as all people in the age group 15-24 who were student in 2006 and no longer student in 2007. Table 2 shows the figures. The employment rate of the young entrants is 58%, only slightly less than the mean employment rate of 62%. The large difference with the total group 15-24 years old has a technical explanation: students (per definition not working) are taken in the calculation of the employment rate of the total group but not in the calculation of the employment rate of the young entrants group.

Table 2 – Young entrants (15-24 years old) on the labour market in Belgium
Comparison with the total group of young people (15-24 years old) and the total group on active age (15-64 years old), 2007
 

Young entrants 15-24 years old

Total 15-24 years old

Total 15-64 years old

Employment rate by education level

     

Total

58.0%

27.5%

62.0%

Low educated

37.2%

12.1%

40.5%

Median educated

56.8%

34.9%

65.9%

High educated

72.8%

66.5%

83.7%

       

Total share of temporary contract

44.9%

31.6%

8.6%

Men

43.6%

28.3%

6.8%

Women

46.2%

35.6%

10.8%

Low educated

60.3%

42.5%

11.2%

Median educated

44.2%

27.5%

8.0%

High educated

40.5%

31.4%

7.8%

       

Total share of part- time contract

22.2%

20.5%

21.9%

Men

13.3%

11.1%

7.1%

Women

31.7%

32.0%

40.5%

Low educated

34.3%

30.1%

26.6%

Median educated

25.4%

20.6%

22.3%

High educated

14.6%

12.4%

18.7%

       

Share of employed persons by sector

100%

100%

100%

Agriculture

0.8%

1.6%

1.8%

Industry

22.7%

28.7%

24.5%

Services

76.5%

69.8%

73.7%

Young entrant=student in 2006 and no longer student in 2007

Source: Eurostat LFS and WSE Report

For 44.9% of the young entrants, the first job is a temporary job, much more than the global 31.6% over all colleagues in this age group and certainly more than the 8.6% in total working group (15-64 years old). An important share of young workers with a temporary contract prefers not to work on temporary basis (approximately 70%), which means that no permanent job is available or that employers prefer to use temporary contracts for new entrants. Temporary contracts are more flexible and can be considered as a kind of fluent adjustment possibility for the employers, especially during crisis periods. For young employees without job experience, this temporary form of work provides an opportunity of access to the labour market (WSE Report).

The very pronounced difference with the share of temporary contracts in the total group of 15-24 years old confirms that a lot of young entrants have to start with a temporary contract, but also that they rather easily can switch to a permanent contract. WSE reports that a quarter of the temporary contracts concern agency work. Two third of the young entrants accepted the temporary contract by lack of a permanent job. A SONAR research confirmed the lack of a permanent job as the main reason to accept a temporary job, especially when it concerns low educated workers. SONAR also mentioned that the temporary contract often created chances for a permanent contract. In this way, temporary jobs are a way to create experience and ameliorating the chances on the labour market. The higher the education level, the easier it is to turn the temporary contract into an advantage in the professional career.

A study of the Higher Council on Employment (Conseil Supérieur de l’Emploi - Hoge Raad voor de Werkgelegenheid) shows that the young people with a temporary job are mainly occupied in very short-term contracts (less than three months) or medium-term contracts (from 4 to 12 months – see table 3). This distribution, in which most contracts have a duration of less than 12 months, is only slightly different with the distribution in other age groups. This in contrast to the share of the employees with a temporary contract, which is clearly correlated to the number of years passed after the end of studies: from 22% after 1-2 years to 6% after 9-10 years on the labour market.

Table 3 – Duration of the temporary job in Belgium
Distribution of young employees (15-29 years old) in a temporary job by duration of the job, 2007
 

15-29 years old

25-49 years old

15-64 years old

< 3 months

35.7%

33.4%

36.0%

4-12 months

43.3%

41.5%

40.5%

> 12 months

21.0%

25.1%

23.6%

Total

100%

100%

100%

Source: Eurostat LFS, Conseil Supérieur de l’Emploi - Hoge Raad voor de Werkgelegenheid

Table 4 shows that half of the temporary employees have a fixed-term contract, 20.6% are agency workers and 8.8% is working in the system of services-vouchers (which aims to allow private persons to pay a registered company for household tasks) and local Employment agencies (a specific system to help long-term unemployed to a job).

Table 4 – Forms of temporary employment (15-24 years old) in Belgium
Share of forms of temporary employment (15-24 years old), 2010

Fixed-term contracts

49.4%

Agency work

20.6%

Service-Vouchers & Local Employment agencies

8.8%

Apprenticeship contracts

5.2%

Student jobs

4.9%

Occasional jobs

0.9%

Others

10.3%

Total

100.0%

Source: DGSEI Survey workforce on the labour market

About 20% of the young entrants work in a part-time job. This share is hardly deviating from the mean percentage. The Conseil Supérieur de l’Emploi - Hoge Raad voor de Werkgelegenheid) reports that some 30% of the young part-time workers (15-29 years old) is choosing a part-time job in order to combine the job with family/household. Another 30% is working part-time involuntary, by lack of a full time job. The share of part-time jobs is increasing during the career: from 12% after 1-2 years on the labour market to 15% after 9-10 years on the labour market. The increase is completely on account of the female workers (from 22% to 32%), while the share of part-time jobs is even decreasing for the men (from 8% to 6%).

In global, young entrants work less in the agriculture sector and the industry and more in the services sector than the total working group. Those figures are influenced by the agency workers. These jobs are counted in the service sector but cover also the agency jobs in the agriculture and industry sectors.

1.2 Skills development

  • Continuing vocational training activities, training activities paid by employer, etc

No concrete data were found on continuing vocational training for young entrants. The large number of temporary jobs for young entrants has most probably a negative effect on the continuing vocational training of young entrants.

1.3 Health and well being

  • Exposure to risks and hazards, stress at work, job intensity, psychosocial risks, information on existing health and safety risks at work, monotonous/complex work, social support at work, organisational issues, etc

The results of an IDEA Consult survey show a high satisfaction (94%) of young people (18-26 years old) in their jobs. Especially the social aspects, such as contact with the colleagues or atmosphere at work have high appreciation. Working young people are less content with the pressure of work and the level of stress at work. Only 69% of the responses report a high satisfaction here.

Table 5 – Workability indicators
Share of employees with problematic experience by workability indicator, Flemish Region, 2007-2010
 

<30 years old - 2007

30-39 years old – 2007

40-49 years old – 2007

50-54 years old - 2007

55+ years old - 2007

Total – 2007

<30 years old - 2010

30-39 years old – 2010

40-49 years old – 2010

50-54 years old - 2010

55+ years old - 2010

Total - 2010

Working circumstances

20.4%

19.9%

19.0%

18.7%

15.1%

19.0%

19.0%

16.8%

18.9%

15.7%

12.0%

17.4%

Support at work

19.7%

20.1%

24.5%

25.2%

22.9%

22.2%

15.6%

17.4%

21.7%

24.8%

23.3%

20.2%

Autonomy

26.8%

26.0%

29.5%

28.9%

27.2%

27.7%

28.0%

23.0%

26.0%

29.5%

26.0%

26.0%

Task variation

39.6%

33.3%

33.6%

35.6%

24.7%

34.0%

39.1%

31.9%

30.8%

36.0%

30.4%

33.3%

Emotional stress

23.2%

24.0%

26.7%

24.9%

26.3%

25.0%

24.5%

24.8%

24.2%

24.5%

23.2%

24.5%

Pressure of work

35.9%

45.0%

45.8%

46.0%

40.2%

43.1%

36.7%

46.9%

47.0%

40.5%

36.4%

43.2%

Work-life balance

9.8%

14.8%

14.0%

13.8%

12.2%

13.2%

11.6%

15.9%

12.8%

12.0%

9.8%

12.9%

Learning opportunities

23.1%

25.7%

29.0%

31.3%

27.6%

27.2%

19.6%

21.6%

25.1%

33.1%

28.3%

24.8%

Motivation

30.1%

25.9%

25.3%

25.1%

21.5%

26.0%

29.8%

24.2%

23.4%

22.4%

19.7%

24.1%

Stress at work

32.4%

37.3%

40.7%

42.2%

40.8%

38.5%

36.0%

38.6%

41.0%

41.7%

35.6%

39.2%

Source: SERV-Stichting Innovatie en Arbeid

Young workers report more problematic experience on working circumstances, autonomy, task variation and motivation (table 5). The large share of temporary jobs and shift workers is probably an explanation (table 2 and 9).

1.4 Reconciliation of working and non-working life

  • Work life balance, flexibility at work to fulfil personal/other matters, ability to set own working time arrangements, etc).

In Belgium, work-life balance is not really influencing the young entrants on the labour market. The impact of the family life on the demanded working schemes is only starting from the age of 30 years old on. Especially for women, the share of part-time work starts increasing at that moment (HRW-Conseil Supérieur de l’Emploi - Hoge Raad voor de Werkgelegenheid) (see also table 2).

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

2.1 Personal characteristics of young entrants

  • Differences by age ranges: the lower the age, are working conditions worse?

Table 1 shows the employment rates by age ranges. A lot of young people (15-29 years old) in Belgium are still studying. Only in the group 25-29 years old, the large majority ended the study period. As a consequence, entering the labour market at a lower age often means entering the labour market with a lower education level. As working conditions are often worse for low-skilled workers, the younger entrants risk lower working conditions.

  • Differences by gender: do young women endure worse conditions than their male counterparts?

Women enter the labour market more often than men in a temporary job and/or in a part-time job. Especially the large share of part-time work for women (31.7% for women – 13.3% for men) is striking. Women often chose a part-time job in function of the combination with family life. However, this trend only starts in the age group of 30 years and older (HRW-Conseil Supérieur de l’Emploi - Hoge Raad voor de Werkgelegenheid). The lack of difference with the total group of 15-24 years old suggests that, more than family life, explanations as education level, sector or occupation are the decisive factors. Female entrants start more in the sectors and occupations where (involuntary) part-time jobs are the standard.

Women also work more on temporary basis, which is again explained by the concentration of women in sectors and occupations with a lot of temporary jobs: education, retail, public services.

  • Differences by educational levels: do the less qualified young entrants suffer worse working conditions than the rest?

The educational level influences the chances on the labour market: the higher the education level, the higher the employment rate. Comparing employment rate of the young entrants with the employment rate in global illustrates the smaller chance for a job for low educated persons: their employment rate is at a very low level at the entrance (37.2%) and hardly increases during the career (to 40.5% in global). The chance for a job is twice as high for high educated young entrants (72.8%) and increases to 83.7% on global level. The HRW confirms: the education level is the determinant factor for the transition to working segment on the labour market.

There is a very clear relation between education level and working conditions: the less qualified the young entrants, the higher the risk on (involuntary) temporary or partial work. Moreover, VDAB-research shows that the stability of the career of young entrants is highly influenced by the education level. Low skilled young people are very sensitive for the ‘revolving door effect’: they do find jobs but have a higher risk to loose the job and to become unemployed again. This creates uncertainty and obstructs the possibility of developing a stable career. The largest risk is for low skilled young entrants, as they cannot compensate their lack of degrees with experiences and competences made in previous jobs.

This is illustrated in table 6. The share of young entrants (here defined as all people in the age group 15-34 who have left education) without job experience after one year on the labour market is much larger for low educated entrants (25.5%) than for high educated entrants (7.7%). Moreover, almost half of the low educated entrants had found a job but is unemployed again by the end of the first year on the labour market.

Table 6 - Young entrants (15-34 years old) after 1 year on the labour market
Division of the young entrants by status of their first job of min.3 months (2009)
 

Total

Men

Women

Low educated

Median educated

High educated

No job

14.2%

12.2%

16.3%

25.5%

15.3%

7.7%

In job

41.9%

42.2%

41.6%

24.7%

40.1%

51.8%

First job ended

43.9%

45.6%

42.2%

49.8%

44.6%

40.5%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

Young entrants=15-34 years old, school education finished

Source: ADSEI-LFS

  • Differences by other personal characteristics

The three Belgian regions show some important differences (see table 7). The global employment rates are higher in the Flemish Region (66.1%) than in the Walloon Region (57.0%) or in the Brussels Region (54.8%). The WSE Report underlines the link between the global employment rate and the chances for the young entrants: a good global employment rate indicates a good working labour market and thus more chances for the young entrants. The figures illustrate: young entrants in the Flemish Region have 67.6% chance on a job, young entrants in the Walloon Region have only 46.6% chance on a job.

Table 7 – Young entrants (15-24 years old) on the labour market in the Belgian regions
Comparison to the total group of young people (15-24 years old) and the total group on active age (15-64 years old), 2007
 

Young entrants 15-24 years old

Total 15-24 years old

Total 15-64 years old

Belgium

58.0%

27.5%

62.0%

Flemish Region

67.6%

31.5%

66.1%

Walloon Region

46.6%

23.1%

57.0%

Brussels Region

n.a.

19.6%

54.8%

Young entrant=student in 2006 and no longer student in 2007; n.a. = not available due to limited responses

Source: Eurostat LFS and WSE Report

  • Reasons and rationale of these possible differences

A successful entry on the labour market is highly linked to the extent in which the young entrants find a job fitting with their studies. Jacobs, Sourbron, Herremans mention that more than a quarter of the young entrants are over-educated: the education level of the employee is too high for the job. This vertical mismatch can be the consequence of the recruitment behavior of the employer asking a higher degree than needed. It can also reflect a lack of vacancies, which makes high educated unemployed applying for jobs under their degree level and as such reducing the chances for low educated unemployed on the labour market.

2.2 Occupational characteristics

  • Differences by economic sectors: are there sectors where young labour market entrants enjoy/suffer better/worse working conditions than in others?

A VDAB research paper focuses on young people on the labour market and listed the ten sectors with the largest share of young employees (15-24 years old). The catering and tourism sector, the personal services and the retail trade are the sectors where more than 15% of the employees is younger than 24 years old (table 8). The agency work counts a lot of young people, as this sector is often used as a way to find a job. As mentioned in block 1, agency work covers not only jobs in the service sector but also in the industry. Still, the tertiary sector has the largest share of young employees.

Table 8 - Top 10 sectors for young employees (15-24 years old)
Share of the group 15-24 years old in the total employment, Flemish region, 2010

Total

9.2%

Catering and tourism

24.7%

Agency work

23.6%

Personal services

22.6%

Retail trade

17.5%

Construction

14.0%

Recreation, culture, sport

13.9%

Agriculture

13.2%

Garage

12.0%

Food and Drink

10.9%

Maintenance

9.8%

Source: NSSO via VDAB

  • Differences by size classes: Are SMEs providing better/ worse working conditions for young labour market entrants in comparison to larger companies?

No info found

  • Differences by occupations: do young people in less skilled occupations have poorer working conditions than those young people in skilled occupations?

The working conditions in less skilled occupations are poorer than in high skilled occupations, certainly for young people. See the description of the consequences of education level of young entrants.

  • Reasons of these possible differences

See reasons and rationale at 2.1.

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

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

Young employees are relatively hard hit by the economic crisis. Table 1 illustrates: the employment rate of young people is decreasing since the economic crisis, in contrast to the total employment rate (15-64 years old), where a large decrease could be prevented and where the level maintained at a stable level. A survey of IDEA Consult confirms and finds an explanation in the crisis of 2009, as this created a higher unemployment rate and young people are often in a disadvantage in recruit procedures: they have to concurrent with people who already have job experience and more application experience and employers are more selective. Once at work, younger people have a higher risk to lose their job because they have less experience, less length of service and thus a lower redundancy premium and because the employer has not yet invested in their job training. Male low educated young people in the industry are the most vulnerable during crisis periods.

Table 9 – Working conditions of young employees in Belgium
Share of young employees in temporary work, part-time work, night work and weekend work, 2007-2011
 

15-24 years old

15-39 years old

15-64 years old

 

2007

2011

2007

2011

2007

2011

Share of temporary workers

30.1%

32.3%

11.4%

12.5%

7.4%

7.7%

             

Share of part-time workers

20.5%

25.2%

19.2%

21.2%

21.9%

24.7%

             

Share of shift workers – total

14.0%

9.7%

11.0%

8.4%

10.2%

7.5%

Men

16.0%

11.2%

13.2%

10.5%

12.0%

9.5%

Women

11.6%

8.0%

8.5%

6.0%

8.0%

5.4%

             

Share of Saturday workers - total

39.6%

41.2%

38.5%

36.2%

38.2%

36.1%

Men

34.1%

34.2%

38.4%

36.4%

39.0%

37.6%

Women

46.5%

49.4%

38.5%

36.1%

37.1%

34.3%

             

Share of Sunday workers – total

21.7%

23.5%

23.1%

22.0%

23.7%

22.3%

Men

19.0%

20.0%

23.1%

22.1%

24.0%

23.2%

Women

25.0%

27.7%

23.2%

21.9%

22.8%

21.2%

Shift workers/Saturday workers/Sunday workers: employees working usually or sometimes in shift/on Saturday/on Sunday

As no data are available for young entrants in 2011 following the demanded definition in this CAR and as we do not have access to the age category 15-29 years old, we tried to approach the situation by giving the age classes 15-24 years old and 15-39 years old.

Source: Eurostat LFS

As young people are overrepresented in the tertiary sector, they are more confronted with involuntary flexible, part-time and/or temporary jobs (see also block 1). Table 9 illustrates the evolution. The share of temporary jobs and part-time jobs increased since 2007. Although the level is different between the age groups (see block 1), the evolution 2007-2011 hardly differs by age group.

The share of shift workers decreased during the period 2007-2011. The organization of work in shift systems is often used in the industrial sector, so we see here the effect of the economic crisis. Young workers are hit more strongly, as the share of shift workers is larger in the younger groups.

The share of weekend work is slightly decreasing in global age group (15-64 years old), from 23.7% in 2007 to 22.3% in 2011. Only in the age group 15-24 years old shows a small increase of weekend workers.

Looking at the workability indicators (table 5 in block 1), we see that particularly the stress at work increased during the crisis, especially for younger workers. The share of younger workers reporting stress at work increased from 32.4% in 2007 to 38.5% in 2010. For the total group of workers, stress at work increased from 36.0% to 39.2%. Other worsening workability indicators are autonomy at work, pressure of work and work-life balance. For each of them, the situation is deteriorated only for younger people.

Young workers report more problematic experience on working circumstances, autonomy, task variation and motivation (table 5). The large share of temporary jobs (table 4) is probably an explanation.

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)

A survey of IDEA Consult finds that young people are conscientious of the current economic crisis. Almost 90% thinks the crisis has an impact on their chances on the labour market. Still, only 60% thinks it will be difficult to find a job in the future years. This makes them more optimistic on their own possibilities than on the labour market in global. However, the optimism depends on their personal situation: lower skilled young people have more fear for the consequences of the crisis. Moreover, the crisis changed the behaviour on the labour market: 62% of the respondents is prepared to adopt their expectations of their job because of the crisis, 75% of the young people is prepared to accept another job than what they studied.

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.

  • the identified initiative(s), please provide:

  • General information (name, dates, responsible body, geographical and sectoral scope…)

  • Objectives pursued

  • Support offered, activities carried out

  • Target group(s)Outcomes: major results/consequences on employment levels and working conditions of young labour market entrantsIf available, assessment of these measures/initiatives (lessons learnt, future prospects)

  • discuss whether the Active Labour Market Policies and other measures described for young entrants in your country are paying enough attention to the quality of jobs and working conditions they are offered

The government has several measures in order to help young persons on the labour market (FPS Employment). The measures usually consist in promoting a more sustainable employment for young people by activating the unemployment allowance or by reducing the cost of labour.

In 1999, the federal government grouped the several measures for young people (<26 years old) under the umbrella ‘starting jobs’. Since then, the system has been reformed several times. Anno 2013, it includes:

  • An obligation for employers with at least 50 employees to attribute at least 3% of the FTE to young persons (< 26 years old)

  • A lowering in social security contributions for employers recruiting young persons

  • A temporary extra lowering of the wage costs by activating the unemployment allowances (Activa Start – see infra)

  • A so-called ‘start bonus’ for minor young people (<18 years old) and their employers

A well-known example is ‘Activa Start’ for the (very) low educated young persons.

  • Start, since 1st April 2006, National Employment Office, all sectors and all regions

  • The objective is to activate the unemployment allowances

  • During the first six months on the job, the National Employment Office pays part of the wage (350 euro)

  • The target group are the low skilled young unemployed, who are

  • younger than 26 years old and very low skilled (at the most a certificate of part time technical or vocational secondary education

or

  • younger than 26 years old and of foreign (not-EU) origin

or

  • younger than 26 years old and with a disability

An evaluation report of Central Economic Council and the Conseil National du Travail found that the demanded percentages of young employees is reached, but only about 25% of them is supported with one of financial support measures. The report suggests the measures should be made better-known.

In 2012, the federal minister of Work launched a large Employment Plan. The plan gives explicit attention to the younger people on the labour market and encloses a reduction of the wage costs for low and middle skilled employees younger than 26 years old. The lower the education level, the higher the reduction. The plan creates also extra teaching practices for low skilled young people. During the budget negotiations 2013, the government decided to strengthen the measure by extending the period of reduced charges.

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.

  • For these initiatives, please provide:

  • General information (name, dates, responsible agents, geographical and sectoral scope…)

  • Objectives pursuedSupport offered, activities carried out

  • Target groups

  • Outcomes: major results/consequences on employment levels and working conditions of young labour market entrants

  • If available, assessment of these measures/initiatives (lessons learnt, future prospects)

Commentary by the NC

NCs are requested to provide a brief commentary on main obtained results, indicating whether the working conditions of ‘first’ jobs are a concern of the authorities and social partners and whether the instruments and mechanisms put in place to support young people in the labour market address the quality of jobs offered.

Young entrants start very often with a temporary job, which creates less workability, more uncertainty and more vulnerability for the economic conditions, as we can see in the current economic crisis. However, most of the young entrants succeed in moving from the first temporary job to a job with more certain conditions.

The chances on the labour market are highly linked to the education level of the young entrant. Not only are low educated more vulnerable for unemployment or inactivity, it is also for low skilled workers more difficult to find a job in good working conditions.

Authorities and social partners have to follow up the situation, so they immediately diagnose when the fluent mobility to certain jobs is no longer functioning. Especially the lower skilled young people deserve a good supervision, as a difficult start could hamper their further career.

Caroline Vermandere, HIVA KU Leuven

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Add new comment