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The changing nature of employment in Europe in the context of challenges, threats and opportunities for employees and employers

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International training and research network maps European employment landscape in flux

Given profound developments such as the current economic climate and globalisation, it is not uncommon to overlook other factors reshaping the working world in Europe. An EU initiative gathered renowned academics and researchers to study employment changes such as ageing workers, migration and industry restructuring.

Industrial Technologies
Fundamental Research

Work regimes are changing throughout Europe. The transformation is making it more difficult for people to work and live the way they did before, both in white- and blue-collar jobs. This is because of longer workdays and an intensification of the work that they do. There is an urgent need for scientists to develop a multidisciplinary, cross-national comparative understanding of contemporary forms of globalisation emerging in new varieties of work and employment. These provide opportunities and challenges for different actors within and beyond employment. Thanks to EU funding, the CHANGINGEMPLOYMENT (The changing nature of employment in Europe in the context of challenges, threats and opportunities for employees and employers) project brought together ‘a range of critical social scientists and new researchers concerned with the transformation of employment relations and conditions of work across Europe,’ says project coordinator Professor Paul Stewart from the University of Strathclyde Business School’s Department of Human Resource Management. ‘The research identified the nature of the restructuring of European labour markets and economies as a result of current economic and social change, and the impact that this has on work relations and working lives.’ Delving deep into the evolving employment landscape CHANGINGEMPLOYMENT trained 12 doctoral and 3 postdoctoral researchers to understand, analyse and respond to employment changes. This was done with the guidance of renowned senior academics, support from the European Trade Union Institute, the International Labour Organisation, a consultancy group and other associate partners, including CAIRDE Teo, a social economy organisation in Northern Ireland’s Armagh City. They explored the ways in which Europe’s job markets and economies evolve by focusing on three key thematic areas that represent changing employment conditions in Europe: management and employee relations; inclusion and exclusion at work and migration; and employee well-being and work life quality. For the first theme, researchers looked at multinational corporation human resource strategies during the economic crisis, and the form and character of worker representation with a view to disseminating best practice. The second involved new developments, including those emerging from the economic crisis, particularly the consequences of unemployment, migration, precarious work, and age, ethnicity and gender inequalities. The final theme concerned the impact of contemporary forms of work and employment flexibility on the quality of working life. Outputs from the three thematic groups include edited books, book chapters, joint papers, articles, reports and an ongoing website. Strengthening social science networks to respond to employment changes The comprehensive training programme provided researchers with a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral understanding of the three shifting employment conditions. It included exchange visits, secondments, fieldwork, three summer schools, two winter schools, several workshops and theme seminars, and an annual network colloquium. ‘The researchers – a new generation of policy-focused social scientists – studied the changing nature of employment in Europe from the perspective of workers, managers, migrant workers and their families, while taking into account the implications for ethnicity, gender and age,’ explains Prof. Stewart. Fellows also produced an in-house research paper series to explore and encourage debate on this changing European landscape with respect to challenges, threats and opportunities for employees and employers. Synergies created between the talented researchers and leading academics during CHANGINGEMPLOYMENT led to a global academic network. ‘Participating in and maturing within a highly imaginative international social science training network resulted in the development of research practice and state of the art engagement with global practitioners in private and public sector institutions and trade unions,’ concludes Prof. Stewart.


Employment, globalisation, work, CHANGINGEMPLOYMENT, employee, employers

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