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ESRC Seminar Series - Young workers and precarious employment


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Young people face a particularly difficult time as a consequence of the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent fiscal challenges facing countries around the world. Across the EU, young people are far more likely than other groups to be struggling to find work and, when they do, the work is more likely to be precarious and insecure. The effects of precarious employment are particularly invidious on young workers as negative early experiences transitions into work are more likely to be associated with a general reduction in life chances.

This seminar series will examine the particular challenges facing young workers and society more widely as a consequence of these difficulties. The seminars will be multi-disciplinary, bringing together both academics and policy makers.

 Seminar 1 - Friday 11th March 2011: International Patterns of Precarious Work Amongst Young People (Coventry University)

The focus of the first seminar will be on national variations in precarious work and will set the framework for discussion and analysis in future sessions which will focus to a greater degree on the UK. An international perspective is important because of the influence of national institutions (e.g. systems of employment regulation and government policies) in structuring the nature and form of precarious work. The aim of this seminar is to begin to identify patterns of similarity and difference underlying precarious work in different institutional contexts.

 Seminar 2 – Friday 23rd September 2011: Causes of Precarious Employment Amongst Young Workers (University of Warwick)

Here the focus will turn to the UK context and speakers will be invited to lead a critical appraisal of the causes of the rise in precarious employment among young people. The analysis here is interdisciplinary drawing on research from social policy labour economics, industrial relations, sociology, labour geography and political economy. The intention is to develop themes related to youth labour market transitions, specifically paths of entry and exit into and out of the labour market, wages, trade union representation, skills, employment protection etc. Employer policy will also be of direct relevance here but the intention is to understand employer decision making within a broader socio-economic context that recognises the importance of labour market and policy influences on employer behaviour.

 Seminar 3 – Friday 16th March 2012: Union Responses to Young Workers’ Precarious Employment (University of Manchester)

This seminar will focus on trade union reactions to the rise in precarious employment. Several levels of union response to precarious forms of work, ranging across recruitment strategies, internal union structures, provision of services, representation in bargaining and grievance procedures, informal regulation at the workplace, regulation through collective agreements, and interaction with government policy (including regulation not only through labour law in the narrow sense but also through training and education, employment programs, and social security).

 Seminar 4 – Friday 21st September 2012: State and Policy responses

The final seminar will explore the implications of precarious employment among young people for governments and other public policy oriented organizations. We intend to include topics such as minimum wage legislation and policy, work placement schemes, gender equality schemes, social security policies etc.

If you have any queries, please contact one of the organisers:

Dr Lefteris Kretsos, Greenwich University:

Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio, University of Manchester:

Dr Melanie Simms, University of Warwick:

We are able to fund speakers to travel to the event. Some finanical support is available for doctoral students. Please contact the organisers if you would like to apply for this funding.

By the end of the seminar series we aim to organize a special issue of the European Journal of Industrial Relations that addresses the topic of precarious employment among young workers from an international and/or comparative perspective. Please contact the organisers if you require further information on this.