In the past weeks the Italian Parliament witnessed a heated debate on gender equality. Female MPs, across different parties, proposed to create quotas for women to ensure a decent representation of females in national and local governing institutions. The woman in me sympathises with the attempt, but the social scientist is trapped in the arguments in favour and against. Continue reading
The European Commission has published (5 March 2014) its Communication on ‘Taking stock of the Europe 2020 Strategy’, which effectively launches the mid-term review of the EU’s ‘growth’ strategy. According to the Commission, the crisis amplified a series of existing imbalances, leading to a growing divergence across and often within Member States: the EU can no longer be seen as a convergence machine. “This convergence process has slowed and even gone into reverse in parts of Europe as a result of the accumulation of imbalances and under the pressure of the crisis. Therefore “seeking to return to the growth ‘model’ of the previous decade would be both illusory and harmful” the report explains.
The Commission admits that progress towards the Europe 2020 targets has been mixed at best: “The EU is on course to meet or come close to its targets on education, climate change and energy but not on employment, research and development or on poverty reduction”. Indicators on employment and poverty and social exclusion indeed show a continuous and sharp deterioration since 2009 and the EU targets appear completely out of reach: by 2020, about 100 million people will be at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Against this backdrop, civil society organisations coming together in the Platform of European Social NGOs rhetorically asked “How bad does the social situation in Europe have to be in order to see a sense of urgency and action from EU leaders?”. Continue reading
Frank Vandenbroucke (KULeuven) and Bart Vanhercke (European Social Observatory) have written a report on ‘A European Social Union: 10 tough nuts to crack‘. The report, commissioned by Friends of Europe, argues that we need a coherent conception of a ‘European Social Union’. It provides a comprehensive survey of the development of the social dimension in European cooperation, and defines ten key questions (‘nuts to crack’) that have to be tackled – by policymakers, stakeholders and academics alike – with a view to developing this Social Union.
The report is written as a background report for the High-Level Working Group that will tackle some of these issues in the course of 2014, with the ambition to take the EU’s social dimension out of its ‘specialist-only’ corner and to bring these social concerns to the top of the political agenda.
The report deals, amongst others, with the ‘social investment’ strategy (esp. the key role of education) and the influence of migration on labour markets and welfare states. The focus is on Eurozone countries.
Health care is a sector that is already under quite some pressure, with pent up demand for certain occupations, but will be more of a bottleneck in the years ahead due to the ageing population. To be able to counter these labour market issues, it is crucial to get a sense of the amount of employment demanded in the sector in the years ahead and to make projections of the supply. This recently posted NEUJOBS working paper by Schulz et al. provides insights the demand and supply for health care workers in the coming decades.
The countries that Schulz et al. study are Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland and Slovakia and they find that in four out of five countries, demand for health care workers will outpace supply between now and 2025. This is the case in both the friendly and the tough scenarios that have been studied, even though in the friendly scenario the differences are much smaller. Only Poland is expected to see supply outpace demand, actually resulting in a large surplus of health care workers. Especially Italy is expected to see large problems occur in terms of supply and demand in the years ahead. For detailed analysis, please read this interesting paper.
The third edition of the “Employment and Social Developments in Europe” (ESDE) review has been released by the European Commission in January. The review - which was picked up by The Telegraph, Tijd/Echo, La Stampa, Dario Economico, La Liberation, Die Welt, Gazeta Wyborcza and many other newspapers - provides an encompassing and rather unsettling picture of the social situation in the EU Member States. The key point stressed by the Commissioner László Andor is the increased divergence between Member States (especially in the Eurozone), which threatens to undermine the European Union itself.
While before the crisis various employment and social indicators showed increasing convergence between the Eurozone countries, this trend was largely halted by the global financial and economic crisis. Continue reading
Did you know that…….
1. the current unfilled jobs rate in the US is 2.6%?
2. that the share of jobs that require postsecondary education went from 29% in 1970 to 59% in 2010 in America?
3. that massive online open courses (MOOCs) are growing exponentially?
….more interesting info in this infographic produced for the US and that we are happy to share.
On 9 December, EU Employment ministers hammered out a “general approach” on the controversial posting-of-workers enforcement directive. The Lithuanian presidency was obliged to change the text numerous times – untill the very last minute of the negotiations – in order for a wider compromise to be achieved. The initial Directive, which dates back from 1996, aimed to resolve various well-known legal, administrative and practical forms of abuse and fraudulent practices when workers are temporarily posted in another country. In practice however (several studies showed) Member States failed to ensure that workers posted under false arrangements receive the rights, pay and conditions of the country in which they work. Continue reading
On the 21st of June CEPS hosted a conference on the highly debated topic of youth unemployment in collaboration with the ENEPRI network, which provided most of the input to the conference drawing from the experience of different EU countries.
Five of the cases studies presented became the object of a Forum in the journal “Intereconomics”:
- Youth Unemployment in Belgium: Diagnosis and Key Remedies, by Bart Cockx
- Spanish Youth Unemployment: Déjà Vu, by Juan J. Dolado, Florentino Felgueroso and Marcel Jansen
- Enhancing Youth Opportunities in Employment: Determinants and Policy Implications, by Izabela StyczyŃska
- The Impact of the Recession on the Structure and Labour Market Success of NEET Youth in Ireland, by Elish Kelly and Seamus McGuinness. Continue reading
During times of prolonged unemployment, it is rather common that people long searching for jobs drop out of the labor force. People that have been unemployed for an especially longer period of time are more likely to lose faith and stop looking for work. One would expect this to be true for Europe, with record high unemployment and more than eight percent of the total labor force being unemployed for more than a year in countries like Portugal, Spain, and Ireland. Continue reading
The subjects that university students actually study have been the object of extensive attention by the public and policy-makers at both national and European levels. Due to the ‘massification’ of higher education, the question “what to study” is steadily replacing “whether to study” as the key question facing young people today. Apparently an ‘excessive’ preference for ‘soft’ subjects at the expense of ‘hard’ ones, despite supposedly better employment and pay prospects of the latter, and the need to boost numbers of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, particularly for women, has been acknowledged even in high-level EU strategies and European Council conclusions. Continue reading