Rob mac donald copenhagen february 2014


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Rob mac donald copenhagen february 2014

  1. 1. Underemployment, insecurity and downward mobility: the new condition of youth? Prof. Robert MacDonald Social Futures Institute Teesside University, UK @RFMacDonald (twitter)
  2. 2. Themes/ questions/ plan Some context: unemployment in Europe  How and why the problem is more than unemployment...  Underemployment & the ‘excluded many’:    Underemployment & ‘the at risk most’:   labour market churning & the Teesside Studies graduate underemployment & the myth of the high skills economy The new condition of youth? A new generation, downward mobility & the Precariat...
  3. 3. Hard times for European youth!  Youth – in transition to labour market – worst hit by 2008+ global economic crisis  5.7 million young people unemployed (November 2013): 23.6% Twice overall rate in EU28 (of 10.9%) (Eurostat 2014) Youth unemployment costs EU €150b pa (Reuters, 2013) Spain 57.7% v. Germany 7.5% [UK 20.5%, Denmark 12.5%]    
  4. 4. The return of the ‘lost generation’ UK youth unemployment/ ‘NEET’   Reflecting age-old fears of ‘youth in/ as trouble’ c. £160k life-time cost to economy for every person NEET i.e. c. £34 billion for those people NEET in 2008! (Coles et al, 2010)   Still c. 1 million 16-24s ‘NEET’ ‘NEET’ problem = rare example of ‘impact’ of youth research on social/ youth policy (e.g. New Labour’s Connexions Service)
  5. 5. BUT 3 problems with policy focus on youth unemployment/ NEET...    1. Sees employment/ unemployment as static categories (ignoring the increased dynamism, complexity & insecurity of youth transitions) 2. Presumes ‘including’ young adults in education, training or employment, moving from ‘welfare to work’, ‘solves’ exclusion & unemployment 3. Ignores problem & extent of underemployment
  6. 6. Underemployment?    Underemployment: various definitions/ meanings  Over-qualification for job  Involuntary part-time work  Insecure/ sporadic employment When defined as in part-time work but wanting full-time job = approx 17% in EU (for all age groups), i.e. in addition to those counted as unemployed ‘Unemployment rate captures only about two-thirds of the extent of European underemployment’ (Watt, 2013).
  7. 7. Youth underemployment in Europe (Gallup, 2013)
  8. 8.      4 long-term studies of youth transitions & social exclusion (fieldwork 1998-2003 – and then 2008/9): ESRC & JRF In some of poorest neighbourhoods in England (Teesside) 186 white, working-class ‘hard to reach’ young adults Qualitative, in-depth, wide-ranging interviews  education & labour market ‘careers’  housing & family ‘careers’  leisure, criminal, drug using ‘careers’ (Quasi)/longitudinal, following (some) same individuals teens to 30s
  9. 9. Underemployment as job insecurity: the Teesside studies     Unemployment = common & recurrent for all… …but so was employment Long-term post-school transitions, into 30s = insecure & non-progressive age 16-18: School-youth trainingunemployment-job…/ age 18-26: job unemployment-FE -unemployment-New Deal…/ age 26-36: unemployment-jobunemployment-New Deal-unemployment... Not labour market exclusion (or idle underclass) - but long-term churning underemployment & economic marginality
  10. 10. Poverty & insecurity: in & out of work   This pattern persisted through 20s & 30s - not just a youth phenomenon; captures many older workers too Jobs were low-paid/ low or no skilled/ insecure factory workers, bar/ fast food staff, care assistants, security guards, labourers, shop assistants   Easily hired into, & fired from, the casualised, ‘poor work’ at the bottom of the labour market Getting a job did not stop poverty
  11. 11. Underemployment & labour market churning in UK  Populations in/ out of work & in/ out poverty are not static (Aldridge et al, 2012: 1)    1 in 6 (in UK) live in poverty at any one time, but around 1 in 3 has had a spell in poverty over a 4 year period 1.6 million currently claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (main out of work welfare benefit), but 4.8 million have claimed JSA at least once in the last two years 42 % of new JSA claims (early 2012) were made within 6 months of a previous claim.
  12. 12. An example: Richard, 30  ‘I just want something with a bit of job security - where maybes I can buy me own house in the future rather than just where you’ve got to be on a wing and a prayer type thing… just a job that I can call me own, you know what I mean? Rather than just looking for one all the time or just jumping from job to job’. Since age 16:  15 episodes of unemployment  5 training schemes  9 jobs (longest 18 months), now via emp. agencies  highest pay £7.50 ph, usually £5.50 ph.  poor & deeply in debt – accrued whilst ‘signed off’ doing short-term agency jobs (loss of benefits)
  13. 13. ‘The dog that didn’t bark’: policy ignorance    Virtually no policy attention to underemployment and low-pay, no-pay cycle in the UK (or EU) Instead, the NEET/ youth unemployment problem preoccupies governments Government (& academic?) orthodoxy =  Youth unemployment ← low aspiration & low skill  ‘NEET’ solved by ‘up-skilling’  Numbers of low-skilled jobs will decline drastically  More high skilled workers (graduates) needed for the current/ coming ‘high-skill, information economy’
  14. 14. Some problems with government orthodoxy ‘NEETs’ = ‘fast-track transitions’ = ‘unsuccessful’  Rest = ‘slow-track transitions’ = ‘successful’  BUT Is extended education through FE-HE really the high road to ‘success’? 
  15. 15. Non-university post-16 education often = ‘vague’, ‘muddled’, ‘little value’ (Wolf, 2011: 82)  ‘Young people.. are being deceived’  ‘…The staple offer for between a quarter and a third of the post-16 cohort is a diet of low-level vocational qualifications, most of which have little to no labour market value. Among 16 to 19 year olds… at least 350,000 get little to no benefit from the post-16 education system’ (Wolf, 2011: 7)
  16. 16. Higher education: success story?  1980s – 2010s: an important difference! ‘In the 1980s there were still very few graduates. Only 8 or 10% went to university…they usually got [ a job] in the end…now 45% are graduates with high expectations. This is the first recession in the era of a mass higher education system. It’s not clear, when the upturn comes, whether the right jobs will be available. They may well be the lost generation of this recession’ Nigel Meager (Institute for Employment Studies, The Times, August 13th, 2009)
  17. 17. But structural, not just recession problem: un(der)employment  Have we disguised youth unemployment?    …by pushing it up the age range (to 18 via ‘warehousing’ in YTS in 1980s to 21 via ‘warehousing’ in HE in 2000s?) … in underemployment (e.g. part-time/ temporary work/ churning/ over qualification for job) … by qualification inflation & pretending there are sufficient ‘graduate jobs’…
  18. 18. Un(der)employment & the ‘skills economy’ myth     Government said numbers of jobs requiring no/ low qualifications in 2020 = 600,000 "Of the 3.4 million unskilled jobs today, we will need only 600,000 by 2020" (Gordon Brown, Budget Speech, 2006) BUT this is “a fundamental government misunderstanding of employers' demand for qualifications among young people” (Mansell, 2010)
  19. 19. Un(der)employment & the ‘skills economy’ myth  Leitch Report (2006) says numbers of people in UK with no/ low qualifications in 2020 = 600,000 BUT…  Numbers of jobs requiring no qualifications will remain at around 7.4 million in 2020 (IPPR, 2010)  Supply of better skilled workers is set to increase markedly (with massive expansion of HE) No equivalent increase in demand from employers for skilled/ graduate workers 
  20. 20. The Hour-Glass Economy: ‘lovely jobs’ & ‘lousy jobs’  growth in ‘lovely’ and in ‘lousy jobs’ - but hollowing out of middle (Sissons, 2012: 30) ‘ the low-wage end of the labour market elementary jobs have also begun to increase since the recession for both men and women. This may be important because although the economy has begun creating jobs, a significant number of these are in the low-wage occupations’.
  21. 21. Un(der)employment & the ‘skills economy’ myth: weak demand ‘Up-skilling’ as the solution to unemployment or lowpaid working ignores...  ‘the scale and persistence of low-paid employment within the UK economy’ (Keep and Mayhew, 2010: 569-70)  Number of jobs requiring little or no qualification appears to be growing not shrinking  Employers have ‘little difficulty in filling vacancies’ for low skilled jobs & show ‘little demand for a more skilled workforce’...  SO... 
  22. 22. UK Graduate Underemployment 2013 (ONS, 2013)   47% of ‘recent graduates’ in non-graduate jobs (37% in 2001) 34% of graduates in non-graduate jobs – even 5+ years after graduating! (29% in 2001)
  23. 23. Some UK news headlines (all November 2013)
  24. 24. What can we make of all this? The new condition of youth? Research questions?
  25. 25. The global… underemployment as the new youth condition ‘Underemployment is now a global phenomenon… In the West it is usually seen as a sign that young people need to catch up with the demands of the new knowledge economy. In Eastern Europe it is typically construed as a sign that the countries’ transitions into properly functioning market economies are still incomplete... Not so: underemployment is the 21st century global normality for youth in the labour market’ (Ken Roberts, 2009: 4, Youth in Transition: Eastern Europe and the West)
  26. 26. A new generation? (cf. K. Roberts, 2011)    ...facing a new set of social/ economic circumstances... ‘Those facing descent outnumber those facing ascent’ Will not do as well as their parents, the ‘baby boomer generation’ (full employment, welfare state, economic growth, expansion - rather than hollowing out - of MC employment)   UK government Child Poverty & Social Mobility Report (October 2013): ‘Many low and middle-income children face being "worse off" than their parents because of falling earnings & rising prices...’
  27. 27. The ^ insecure ‘middle-mass’ The social order of post-industrial capitalism (Byrne, 1999)  ‘The excluding few’: the affluent, the super-class; owners of capital & the higher service class; not completely closed, can be accessed/ bought by very high levels of educational achievement  ‘The at risk most’: the insecure middle mass; massively more insecure than under Fordism. ‘all that is on offer for most children who achieve even at the level of degree is white collar or semi-professional work which at best offers something like the remuneration and stability of skilled manual employment in the Fordist era’ (p142). Significant movement between this and...  ‘The excluded many’: residualised social housing spaces, churning between welfare & insecure low paid jobs (Teesside Studies)
  28. 28. Guy Standing (2011) The Precariat   Neo-liberal, flexible labour markets give rise to new global class defined by their insecurity of work & life conditions Mass, diverse membership, with youth at the core of the Precariat (career-less graduates, migrants, unemployed, the working poor, & insecurely employed)
  29. 29. The Precariat: ‘old working class’ AND ‘middle mass’ youth
  30. 30. What next for the new generation? Underemployment not shared by ‘the affluent’, the ‘excluding few’  Tighter class closure?/ ‘The Great Reversal’ (Ainley and Allen, 2013)  Worsening conditions? Adaptation? Growing resistance?  Standing speculates between rightwing ‘Politics of the Inferno’ or progressive ‘Politics of Utopia’?  ‘Golden Dawn’ or ‘Occupy’? 
  31. 31. ? Conclusion/ Research questions/ Politics    The ‘excluding few’ will still do as they ever do, but… Current youth generation facing drastically worsened opportunities (not just recessionary) – and not restricted to the most disadvantaged, nor working-class Precarité & underemployment = defining conditions for youth
  32. 32. References          Allen, M. and Ainley, P., (2013) The Great Reversal: Young People, Education and Employment in a Declining Economy, London: Radicaled. Aldridge, H., Peter Kenway, P., MacInnes, T., and Parekh, A. (2012). Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion: Findings, York: JRF. Brown, G. (2006). Budget Speech. Retrieved from Coles, B., et al (2010) Estimating the life-time cost of NEET: 16-18 year olds not in Education, Employment or Training, Eurostat (2014) ‘Euro area unemployment rate’, Gallup (2013, 5th December) IPPR (2010) New analysis reveals record numbers unable to find full-time work. Press Release, London: IPPR. Retrieved from Johnston, L., MacDonald, R., Mason, P., Ridley, L. and Webster, C., (2000). Snakes & Ladders, York: JRF. Keep, E., and Mayhew, K. (2010). Moving beyond skills as a social and economic panacea. Work, Employment and Society, 24, 3: 565-577.
  33. 33. References       The Leitch Report (2006). Prosperity for all in the global economy – world class skills, Norwich: HMSO. MacDonald, R. (2013) Underemployment and precarité: The new condition of youth?, Lifelong Learning in Europe, Issue 1, MacDonald, R. and Marsh, J. (2005). Disconnected Youth? Growing up in Britain’s poor neighbourhoods, Basingstoke: Palgrave Mansell, W. (2010). A failure to do the maths? In The Guardian, 2 February. Retrieved from ONS (2013) Graduates in the UK Labour Market, Reuters (2013). EU plans "lost generation" fund to fight youth unemployment, 6th February 2013. Retrieved from
  34. 34. References        Roberts, K. (2009). Youth in Transition: Eastern Europe and the West, London: Palgrave. Roberts, K. (2012). The end of the long baby-boomer generation. In Journal of Youth Studies, 15, 4: 479-498. Shildrick, T., MacDonald, R., Webster, C., and Garthwaite, K. (2012.) Poverty and Insecurity: life in low-pay, no-pay Britain, Bristol: Policy Press. Sissons, P. (2011). The Hourglass and the Escalator: Labour market change and mobility, London: The Work Foundation. Standing, G. (2011). The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, London: Bloomsbury. Watt, A. (2013) ‘Europe’s Unemployment Problem – Perhaps Half As Big Again’, in Social Europe Journal, 25th April 2013 Webster, C., Simpson, D., MacDonald, R., Abbas, A., Cieslik, M., Shildrick, T., and Simpson, M. (2004). Poor Transitions: young adults & social exclusion, Bristol: Policy Press/ JRF. Wolf, A . (2011) The Wolf Report: Review of Vocational Education,