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Education, Work, and Life ChancesLabor Market Policy and Employment

Education, Work, and Life Chances

Research Unit
Labor Market Policy and Employment

The research unit was closed on March 31st, 2008.                                         

The ‘Europeanisation’ and globalisation of national economies, demographic and technological change and changes in women’s labour market behaviour are posing new challenges for national labour markets. The gradual removal of the social and cultural barriers to women’s participation in paid work, the de facto or statutory raising of the retirement age and the completion and extension of the European internal market have all contributed to the blurring of the social, spatial and political boundaries of national labour markets and increased the competition for jobs. At the same time, national governments have less freedom to pursue monetary and fiscal policies likely to promote employment. As a result, national labour market policy institutions involved in wage-setting, vocational qualifications and further training, the structuring of employment contracts (dismissal protection, working-time regulation) and social protection are coming under increasing pressure to adapt. Labour market risks are increasingly being shifted on to individuals and firms in the form of flexibilisation, irregular earnings and enforced regional mobility. New forms of social risk management are required in order to provide both flexibility and security.

Against this background, the research unit’s work focuses primarily on the new employment risks, particularly on the risk of long-term unemployment and permanently precarious employment relationships. Its principal concern is to establish the conditions for an efficient and solidaristic labour market policy. Besides unemployment insurance, placement services and employment promotion, labour market policy broadly defined also includes those institutions such as employment regulation, vocational training systems, social security and its funding and industrial relations systems that exert a strong influence on individual employment decisions. In this connection, the analysis of the employment dynamic, of labour market behaviour and qualification needs, as well as of the interface between the labour market and the social state, are of strategic importance.

The main concept underpinning the research programme is the notion of transitional labour markets. > research concept

The research unit’s research projects can be divided into five main areas:

 n      The labour market and the welfare state: The social protection of labour market risks
               over the life course  –  Risk management through transitional labour markets

Analysis of the interface between the labour market and the welfare state is the first area of research. The predominant concern here is the theoretical and empirical analysis of the need for labour market policy and the institutions of the welfare state to adapt to the new risks of working life and the capacity of national employment systems to reform themselves in response to the globalisation of labour markets, including the ‘Europeanisation’ of labour market policy.

 n      The efficiency and effectiveness of labour market policy 

Another area of research is analysis of the efficiency and effectiveness of labour market policy. The predominant concern here is with issues relating to the implementation, systematic benchmarking and rigorous evaluation of local, regional, national and European labour market policy and the consequent learning from good practice.

 n      The ‘Europeanisation’ of the labour market and of labour market policy

The aim of this research area is to depict and explain tendencies in member states of the EU towards a Europeanisation of national employment policies. The focus lies on the impact of supranational institutions like the EU-Commission and the European Council on the national formation of employment policies. In addition, we investigate the mutual impact of national policies (policy diffusion), and the relationship between EU employment policies and other policy areas such as EU structural funds. The methodological approach in this research area covers a broad variety ranging from qualitative case studies to macro-quantitative comparisons.

 n      Structural changes in employment

The research unit is engaged in several projects whose main focus is the structural change taking place in employment. These projects have two broad sets of concerns. In the first, the focus is on the development of new employment relationships, such as part-time working, fixed-term jobs, temporary work, multiple job holding and the new forms of self-employment, as well as hybrid forms of paid and unpaid work, with particular attention being paid to their implications for social security. In the second, the main emphasis is on analysis of the skills required for the new jobs and employment forms that are emerging, the identification of qualification needs and the successful translation of the knowledge thus acquired into the training decisions taken by individuals, firms and labour market policymakers.

 n      Additional projects

> Introduction of the project areas and all research projects

> Completed projects

Professor Dr. Günther Schmid

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