EUROPEAN PAPERS ON THE NEW WELFARE

Abstracts from The Employment Dilemma and the Future of Work

10.3 Integrating part-time jobs for the younger in the period of education

The lack of experience is a serious handicap that many young persons face when they enter the labour market. This problem, which is basically independent of the level of educational attainment, becomes more prominent as they grow older. According to the OECD, young people with higher levels of education face less risk of unemployment in most countries. Nevertheless, they are two or three, in some cases such as Italy even five, times more likely to be (or become) unemployed than more mature workers with comparable levels of education.
The requirement for better and higher education should not deprive young people of their opportunities in attaining work experience. There is definitely a need to improve the school-to-work transition in most countries, especially since we are facing a situation where the typical age of obtaining a first degree from higher education is increasing, reaching 25 years in countries like Germany and Switzerland. The traditional system where largely full-time attendance at educational institutions is followed by entry into the labour market seems to be only the second best alternative. A parallel system where part-time work is integrated into education appears to be more promising. The so-called ‘dual apprenticeship system’ as implemented in Austria, Germany and Switzerland where a large majority of youths engage in training organised and run by employers as well as spend one day or two in educational institutions are examples of the second level of schooling. Unfortunately, the institutionalisation of such a dual system in the third level as well is receiving not enough attention. Usually, only certain job placements when students engage in work for a short time during higher education have been established. a real two-tier system of higher education is largely unknown.
Virtually all young people eventually make the transition from education to the labour market. The better they are prepared, the easier they will find an adequate job and the greater will be the gains for society. We have to establish a system where, on the one hand, the educational level is as high as possible, but where, on the other hand, the attainment of these high levels of education does not pose additional problems in form of degenerate possibilities for a smooth transition to the labour market.

10.4 Part-time jobs for the over 60’s

First, we would like to prove a common prejudice wrong: older workers contribute in a very positive way to the success of their employers instead of being a burden like conventional corporate opinion tends to believe. There exists quite a number of studies on this issue that demonstrate the general positive contribution of older workers8. They are experienced, reliable, work hard, are effective in their job, think before they act and display good team-working abilities. They are also subject to lower turnover and seem to be more flexible towards new assignments and changing work conditions as their younger colleagues. These very positive characteristics of older workers can and definitely should be exploited not only until the age of retirement, 60 years in most industrialised countries, but for a longer period. Longer life expectancies and improved health conditions would permit this.
One of the major problems for the employment of older workers resides in the system of remuneration by seniority. Traditionally, older workers have been more expensive than their younger counterparts who, in fact, have been subsidising the higher wages of the former. This has lead to a situation where older workers might be paid more than their effective productivity, providing the employer with an incentive to get rid of them, or, in the case of general redundancy, to shed them first. The situation is even worse in some countries where the contribution to pension systems increases with age, thus making older workers even more expensive.
Nevertheless, there seems to be a new movement towards performance-based remuneration in many countries, especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries, that will promote the competitiveness of older workers. Part-time work in this context could contribute considerably to the transformation of the remuneration system since the switch of older workers reaching retirement age from full-time to part-time employment with partial pension relieves some of the financial constraint, both for the employer and the employee.
However, the current distribution of income for the older population, those aged 65 and over, still does not reflect a major shift towards increased income from part-time work according to the EBRI9. Their data for 1994 show that with 44% of total income social security is the largest source of income, followed by pension and retirement plans with 20%. Earnings, accounting for 15%, range even behind income from assets, amounting to 17%. The slight pick-up of the elderly’s income from earnings from 13% in 1984 should be interpreted with caution, since it first fell from a previous peak 21% in 1974, as a feeble sign that things are changing.
The question of gradual retirement as a complement to the established three pillars of the social security system and as an expression of personal choice and individual preferences is closely linked to part-time work. Even in countries like Germany, France or Japan, where rather traditional attitudes to part-time work have dominated for long, attitudes are starting to change. Especially the wish of the over 60s for more flexible ways to organise their lives have contributed to the greater recognition of more flexible work patterns.
So far, the experiences with part-time work as the compenent of a gradual retirement are mainly positive10. Introductory organisational problems can be overcome rather quickly and the initial investments in extra administrative, planning and sometimes equipment cost are compensated through reductions in absenteeism, increased flexibility, improved morale and productivity growth. It is noteworthy that ignorance appears to be one of the bigger obstacles to part-time work of older workers, especially when they are past the official retirement age. People tend to be sceptical where part-time work has not been experienced, but where developed, it is generally welcomed by supervisors11. Younger colleagues can also benefit through an endowment process of valuable skills from the development of part-time work for more experienced workers that would otherwise be fully retireing.
Since generally the benefits of part-time work for the older outweigh the costs, there are structurally and medically no obstacles, and practice shows that many more tasks could be performed by part-time workers than is currently the case, the development of part-time proves an ideal way of lengthening and/or flexibilising the working life.

8 See e.g Warr, P. (1994): “Research into the Work Performance of Older Employees”, The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance, No. 73, pp. 472-480; Or The Commonwealth Fund (1991): New Findings Show why Employing Workers over 50 Makes Good Financial Sense for Companies.
9 Employee Benefit Research Institue (1996): “Income of the Older Population”, Monthly Newsletter, Vol. 17, no. 7, pp. 1-3.
10 See Delsen, L./ Reday-Mulvey, G. (1996): Gradual Retirement in the OECD Countries.
11 Delsen, L. (1995): Atypical Employment: An International Perspective.


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,