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Study raises red flags on labour trajectories in Europe

A study of labour trajectories in northern and southern Europe has shown that the EU's career and employment trajectories for citizens are under threat. New legislation and policymaking is required to address the situation.
Study raises red flags on labour trajectories in Europe
The economic crisis in recent years has taken its toll on employment levels to different extents in southern and northern Europe. The EU-funded TRANSICAP (Labour trajectories in UK and Spain. Analysis of capabilities in transitions using a mixed-method approach) project conducted a comparative study of employment trajectories since the onset of the crisis in Spain and the United Kingdom. It looked at transitions between employment situations as possible turning points in one's future, examining the impact it has and different options available on those affected.

To achieve its aims, the project analysed key institutional challenges in employment regulation and welfare in both countries before and after the crisis. It profiled those facing critical turning points (e.g. job loss or drastic change in working conditions) and interviewed 15 representative individuals from each country to identify policy shifts and trends.

Common elements emerged from the two-nation comparative study, such as reductions in employment regulation, less employee rights, contract changes, public service cuts, less benefits and widening wage levels. Among the findings, in the United Kingdom the study showed faster spread of unemployment during the recession and an increase in self-employment. In Spain, job loss shot up in all occupations and the market shifted to part-time employment for young workers.

These patterns imply that both the labour market and the state are providing less support for individuals facing transitions such as job loss or drastic change in working conditions. The project also found that paid employment is not adequate anymore to achieve personal and employment aims.

In all, findings show that the impact of employment and welfare reforms has reduced legislative and trade-union support in the labour market both in Spain and the United Kingdom. Support depends more on family resources and relationships, which in turn threatens social equality and socioeconomic comfort.

With this in mind, the research has provided valuable insight into the effect of austerity and recession during transitions. It revealed the need to re-evaluate employment regulation and policymaking as trajectories are compromised and families are destabilised. With eroded institutional support, rising unemployment, increasing work hours and decreasing wages, the EU's values of social inclusion are at risk. Innovative policies are needed immediately to address these urgent developments, and the project's results will certainly be useful in achieving this.

Related information


Labour trajectories, career, employment, working conditions, employee rights, labour market
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