Monitoring structural change and managing restructuring

07 December 2018

Structural change in the economy has many implications for Europe’s labour markets and employment. While dynamism is necessary for a vibrant economy, job loss can be a serious life event, and restructuring processes should seek to minimise the negative consequences for employees.

Policymakers need insights into the evolution of labour markets to ensure that the workforce is equipped with the skills that employers need now and into the future. Policy is also needed to address falling labour demand and displacement of workers from industries in decline.

The European Commission in setting out the Europe 2020 strategy committed to work to ‘promote the restructuring of sectors in difficulty towards future-oriented activities, including through quick redeployment of skills to emerging high-growth sectors and markets’. The most specific European employment policy instrument for restructuring is the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, which provides support to people losing their jobs as a result of major structural changes due to globalisation.

Eurofound's work

Eurofound monitors and analyses the impact of structural change in European labour markets. It seeks to provide answers, in the first instance, to the basic question of where employment is growing and declining. It approaches this question from many angles – such as sector, occupation and employment contract. It also answers the question from the perspective of job quality – taking pay as a proxy for job quality, for example, is new employment being created in the top-paying, middle-paying or lowest-paying jobs? A key strand of this work focuses on gathering information on the impact of restructuring on employment, enabling broad trends in restructuring activity across Europe to be captured and examined.

Eurofound has developed two instruments to provide stakeholders with essential information, insights and analysis to plan for labour market change and to design policy to achieve Europe’s employment goals.

The European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) is a unique knowledge resource on restructuring and offers a range of information through its databases on restructuring events, national public support instruments and legislation, as well as case studies on restructuring processes.

The European Jobs Monitor (EJM) tracks and analyses shifts in the employment structure of Europe in terms of occupation and sector, principally, but also looks at dimensions such as gender, type of employment contract, education and nationality. It gives a qualitative assessment of these shifts using various measures of job quality – wages, skill levels and educational attainment – demonstrating whether employment is

  • upgrading: expanding in high-quality jobs
  • downgrading: expanding in low-quality jobs
  • polarising: expanding at both ends of the quality spectrum, with a hollowing out of mid-quality jobs.

Key contributions

The ERM has recently looked at the employment impact of offshoring and reshoring in Europe. Other work has examined job creation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the efforts public authorities have made to promote employment in this company class size.

For the EJM, analysis of shifts in the employment structure, as well as describing recent trends, has also examined developments from long-term and global perspectives.

Restructuring resources

  • The ERM restructuring events database gathers information on restructurings carried out by companies, aggregating and analysing it to describe recent and long-term trends. Updated daily, it currently contains over 21,000 factsheets on restructuring events in Europe dating back to 2002. 
  • The restructuring support instruments database records information that governments and social partners across the Member States provide to help companies and workers in managing restructuring.
  • The restructuring-related legislation database gives an overview of national regulations that are explicitly or implicitly linked to managing restructuring.
  • The restructuring case studies database documents examples of how private sector and public sector employers have planned and implemented restructuring processes.

Ongoing work

Current work covers the following topic:

  • how demographic change is influencing the occupational structure (EJM report 2019).

The restructuring events database continues to be updated daily.

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