Contribution to EIRO thematic feature on Youth and work - case of Greece

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1. Regulatory Framework

Greece does have programmes to benefit young unemployed and employed people, but they usually tend to be derived from the respective European policies and programmes.

There is no commonly accepted definition of young employed person: usually the age limits for this category are either not differentiated or are not clearly defined. Some of the programmes addressed to young people place the limit at 25 years of age. For example, the recent law on combating unemployment (Law 3227/2004: Measures to combat unemployment and other provisions), in the clause on incentives and subsidies for the engagement of young unemployed people, sets an upper age limit of 25. Other studies have preferred to take 29 as the upper age limit, a choice associated with certain particularities of Greek society, which is lagging somewhat behind as regards the entry of young people into the labour market. Such particularities include the orientation of many young people towards university-level studies, mandatory military service for men and the delay with which young people leave their parents’ home. Finally, it is worth remarking that some of the programmes for gaining work experience (STAGE), addressed for the most part to youth, set the age limit at 35 or 40 (among them the 2005 STAGE programme for bodies in the health and welfare sector, the Ministry of Development and bodies supervised by it, the social insurance organisations and the sector of natural environment).

Policies are primarily addressed to: young unemployed people and young graduates of secondary, post-secondary and tertiary academic or technical schools) to facilitate the transition from education to the labour market and/or acquisition of work experience, etc.).

There is a protective institutional framework in favour of young employed and unemployed people. On the level of legislative regulations, laws have been passed (e.g. Law 3227/2004), which include provisions on young unemployed people, and alongside this underage workers, etc. are also protected by law. Finally, collective labour agreements also include provisions to protect young employed and unemployed people (see Unit 3).

2.National programmes on youth employment

With regard to the status of youth employment and unemployment in the context of the overall political dialogue, we must note certain particularities of Greek society and the Greek labour market. Without meaning that no measures regarding youth unemployment are adopted or that it is an issue that is not a politically controversial subject among the various parties, youth employment and unemployment is not a major issue on the agenda of the political parties (in contrast to issues pertaining to employment and/or unemployment of older people). This fact relates mainly to the protective role played by the Greek family, which has often served to complement or even replace the welfare state, due to the latter’s lack of presence and intervention. This necessitates (and continues to necessitate) the creation of a “safety net” for young people in order to avoid extreme situations of precariousness and poverty among unemployed youth or precariously employed youth.

Basic statistical data: The data on employment and unemployment of youth aged 15-29 show the following:

Employment of people in this age group has remained relatively stable over the last 10 years Table1).

The proportion of young women employed part time has increased, in contrast to men, where a decrease has been noted (Table 1).

A small decrease in paid employment has been noted, which is greater in the case of women (Table 2).

The proportion of temporarily employed young women and men has increased (Table 2).

The statistical data show a decrease in youth unemployment, especially for women (Tables 3 and 4), along with a decrease in the duration of unemployment.

TABLE 1: EMPLOYMENT OF YOUTH AGED 15-29, BY GENDER AND EMPLOYMENT STATUS (1995-2004) AS A PROPORTION OF TOTAL EMPLOYMENT
  1995 2000 2004
Employment among people 15-29 (both genders) 21.8 22.9   21.2  
   
Men 20.2 22.1   20.4  
Women 24.5 24.1   22.6
   
Full-time 21.4 22.4   20.8  
Men 19.9 21.6   20  
Women 24.2 23.8   22.1
Part-time 29.6 31.6   29.7  
Men 32.6 39.5   35  
Women 27.8 27.1   27.6  
% Part-time (of employment of people 15-29) 6.6 6.4   6.5  
Men 4.5 4.8   3.7  
Women 9.6 9   10.6  

* (Source: National Statistical Service of Greece, Processed by: G. Kritikidis, INE/GSEE-ADEDY).

TABLE 2: PAID EMPLOYMENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE 15-29, BY GENDER AND DURATION OF EMPLOYMENT (1995-2004) AS A PROPORTION OF TOTAL PAID EMPLOYMENT
  1995 2000 2004
Paid employment of people 15-29 (both genders) 27.2 27.7   25.7  
   
Men 24.2 25.8   24.4  
Women 32.1 30.5   27.7
   
Permanent 24.7 24.6   23.1  
Men 21.8 23   21.6  
Women 29.5 27.3   25.4
Temporary 49.2 46.6   44.2  
Men 46.9 46.2   47  
Women 52.4 47   41.2  
Proportion of temporary (as a proportion of employment of people aged 15-29) 18.4 23.2   21.4  
Men 18.4 21.8   21.2  
Women 18.3 25.1   21.5  

* (Source: National Statistical Service of Greece, Processed by: G. Kritikidis, INE/GSEE-ADEDY).

TABLE 3: YOUNG UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE (1995-2004) BY GENDER AND AGE GROUP
. Both genders   1995 2000 2004
TOTAL UNEMPLOYED 423,982 519,334 493,018
15-19 41,969 41,203 23,936
20-24 114,181 123,139 102,190
25-29 91,320 114,879 105,492
TOTAL UNEMPLOYED15-29-YEAR-OLDS 247,470 279,221 231,619
UNEMPLOYED 15-29-YEAR-OLDS AS A PROPORTION (%) OF TOTAL NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED 58.4 53.8 47
. Men TOTAL UNEMPLOYED 175,637 207,197 182,016
15-19 13,587 15,649 10,546
20-24 42,663 51,510 37,970
25-29 36,386 45,456 42,460
TOTAL UNEMPLOYED15-29-YEAR-OLDS 92,636 112,615 90,976
UNEMPLOYED 15-29-YEAR-OLDS AS A PROPORTION (%) OF TOTAL NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED 52.7 . 54.4 . 50
Women TOTAL UNEMPLOYED 248,346 312,137 311,002
15-19 28,382 25,554 13,390
20-24 71,518 71,629 64,221
25-29 54,935 69,422 63,032
TOTAL UNEMPLOYED15-29-YEAR-OLDS 154,835 166,605 140,643
UNEMPLOYED 15-29-YEAR-OLDS AS A PROPORTION (%) OF TOTAL NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED 62.3 . 53.4 . 45.2

* (Source: National Statistical Service of Greece, Processed by: G. Kritikidis, INE/GSEE-ADEDY).

TABLE 4: DURATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT/JOB SEEKING AMONG YOUNG UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE (15-29) BY GENDER (AS A PROPORTION OF TOTAL UNEMPLOYED)
.   1995 2000 2004
Has not yet begun or is about to begin seeking employment - 30 67.9
Unemployed less than 1 month 61.6 59.3 55.9
Unemployed for 1-2 months 53.1 58.1 51.4
Unemployed for 3-5 months 60.1 53.6 48.0
Unemployed for 6-11 months 67.2 56.4 53
Unemployed for over 12 months (long-term unemployed) 63.1 52 40.9
Unemployed new entrants 82.6 72.8 63.2
Unemployed who have worked in the past 40 33.4 29.5
. Men Has not yet begun or is about to begin seeking employment 71.8 36.4 64.9
Unemployed less than 1 month 51.1 59.5 54.6
Unemployed for 1-2 months 51.4 54.9 55.8
Unemployed for 3-5 months 54.1 54.1 46.9
Unemployed for 6-11 months 62.7 57.9 50.8
Unemployed for over 12 months (long-term unemployed) 60.2 52.2 43.8
Unemployed new entrants 85.2 78.1 70.1
Unemployed who have worked in the past 35.8 32.8 29.4
Women Has not yet begun or is about to begin seeking employment 54.2 . 41.3 . 59.2
Unemployed less than 1 month 42.4 . 59.6 . 53.2
Unemployed for 1-2 months 50 52 60.6
Unemployed for 3-5 months 48.7 54.8 45.7
Unemployed for 6-11 months 57.2 59.9 47.6
Unemployed for over 12 months (long-term unemployed) 54.7 52.5 50
Unemployed new entrants 90.7 88.3 85.1
Unemployed who have worked in the past 31.3 32 28.4

* (Source : National Statistical Service of Greece, Processed by: G. Kritikidis, INE/GSEE-ADEDY)..

As regards policies in favour of young employed or unemployed people in Greece, two things should be noted:

First: In Greece there have been no extensive social protection interventions in favour of young unemployed people, due to the traditional belief that overall policies to combat unemployment are often not accompanied by more specific interventions in favour of unemployed people in this age group [1]. In other words, in many cases the measures in favour of young people are merely part of a broader programme to stimulate employment.

Second, these policies (principally the ones designated as active) are usually not domestic but determined by others and are developed as part of and funded by European policies for employment [2].

Taking also into account the above-mentioned observations, which are of interest in order to understand the position of such policies in practice, they may be divided into policies for (Dimoulas, 2002):

Upgrading professional qualifications and boosting employability, e.g. programmes for supplementary training of graduates of tertiary education, attendance at Vocational Training Institutes, continuing vocational training programmes, etc.

Stimulating entrepreneurship, mainly expressed through programmes for financing the creation of individual enterprises (e.g. Self-employed Youth programmes), which are also addressed to youth as well as to other age groups.

Subsidising employers to engage unemployed people of all age groups (e.g. New Jobs programmes).

Acquiring job experience, mainly via the STAGE programmes or on-the-job training for students.

Information/consultation and vocational guidance [e.g. (labour market) Liaison Offices at Universities, youth entrepreneurship counters of the General Secretariat for the New Generation, Information offices for unemployed people and businesses].

To these so-called active employment policies, we may also add the passive policies which are however limited in scope. To give a rough idea, there is an allowance for young unemployed people (who have been on the unemployment register for at least one year) of around EUR75 per month.

Implementers of these specific policies are not only state bodies (primarily the Labour Force Employment Organisation - OAED) but also private bodies (e.g. trade unions, chambers).

As regards the implementation of these policies - and taking account of everything mentioned above - one could say that by and large no extensive use is made of the programmes and possibilities offered, both due to insufficient information (or even misinformation), and also due to the preference for other channels for seeking employment/entering the labour market (e.g. clientelism, unofficial networks).

3.Role and views of the Social Partners on Youth at work

By and large, the social partners take part in the procedures to set policies for employment, both by means of collective bargaining, and also by means of their participation in tripartite representative bodies (e.g. OAED) and in more or less institutional and/or regular social dialogue procedures (e.g. National Action Plans for employment, Local Employment Pacts). In parallel, the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) has Vocational Training Centres addressed to (young) unemployed people.

Of interest are the arrangements decided in concentration with the social partners, which are included in the National General Collective Labour Agreements (EGSSEs). The following are indicative:

  • An additional employer contribution was agreed upon in the 1991-92 EGSSE. The contribution is paid into a special OAED account, the Account for Employment and Vocational Training (LAEK) - to support vocational training programmes, mainly in favour of youth unable to find jobs, etc.).
  • In the 1993 EGSSE an additional employer contribution (paid to OAED) was agreed upon, for supporting programmes to address unemployment (for long-term unemployment, youth unable to find jobs, etc.).
  • The 1998-99 EGSSE introduced medical care for unemployed youth (up to 29 years of age) not covered by a public social insurance provider, financed by LAEK funds, specifically from its unemployment department, through a programming agreement with the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA).

4. Discussions and Research

As already mentioned, even though there are policies and measures in favour of young employed and unemployed people, at the present stage most of the interest is focused on older unemployed (and/or employed) people. However, worth noting is a study carried out by the GSEE Institute of Labour in the 1999-2002 period, as part of a European research programme referring to precarious employment among youth [3].

5. Commentary

Despite the fact that the problems faced by youth in the area of employment are widely known (uninsured work, precarious forms of employment, etc.), and whereas the statistics point up the dimensions of youth unemployment, due importance has not perhaps been placed on unemployment-related problems of young people, due to the protective role played by the Greek family, which creates a safety net for youth and alleviates the impact of unemployment and employment insecurity. This has also resulted in a certain concealment of the problems affecting young employed/unemployed people, problems which are emerging more and more as family ties loosen and rupture.

(Christina Karakioulafis, INE- GSEE/ADEDY)

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