Labour Market Flexibility strategies and their impact on special inequality dynamics

From Eddy Bruno
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source: http://www.ccs.org.za/?p=6040

The increasing labour market flexibility due to the globalisation, competitiveness, and permanent risk has devastating consequences to early entrants and youngster career cause by the decline of long-term commitment in modern societies due to volatility of labour, capital, commodity, a financial markets and company that react by transferring risks to their employees (“recommodification of risks”) or withdraw from employment contract (“contingent asymmetric commitment”) (pp.3-7). However, some groups are more endangered into the precarious job than others as “(…) recommodification strikes especially socially deprived groups” (pp. 7). Flexibility is distinguished as numerical flexibility, externalization, wage flexibility, temporal flexibility and functional flexibility that can lead to precarious jobs, risk of unemployment (pp.4-5), and uncertainties such as economic uncertainty, temporal uncertainty, or social uncertainty (Blossfeld et al 2005, pp.4-6). Hence, labour market flexibility is observed from two groups: “(…) on the one hand, labour market insiders whose jobs are relatively well protected; on the other hand, there are outsiders (…) who are deprived of experience and who do not have strong ties to work organizations and work environments” (pp. 25). Also, the latter is temporarily employed that expose young person’s early career to numerical flexibility (pp. 5-6). Consequently, this will affect their marriage timing and family formation, impact on socially inequality structures and permanently disadvantage throughout the life process (pp.6-7).
Moreover, the institutional settings of different countries’ perspective and social structure mediate the “(…) effect on how labor market entrants are affected by increasing labor market flexibility” depending on the education system, the production regime, and the welfare model (pp.9-10).
Firstly, the education system of Modern societies is differently structured. To begin with, the general education system is classified under standardization and stratification. The former denotes “the degree to which the quality of education meets the same standard nationwide” (…) and the letter “(…) refers to the number and type of transition to the next education level” (pp. 10-11; Allmendinger 1989: 46). Hence, in standardized regimes certificates provide employers with employee’s information that smooth school to work transition process, whereas stratified systems enable companies with a pre-selection of people school performance (Allmendinger 1989; pp.10). Hence, both governance affects the matching process, determined the transition path, and adjusts the economic shock (pp.10-11). Furthermore, countries organised vocational training differently as (1) “theoretical” vocational training mainly in schools (e.g. in Holland, Sweden, Hungary, Estonia), (2) a dual system with both school training and job experience at the workplace (e.g., in Germany, Denmark), and (3) unstandardized on-the-job training (e.g., in the United States, Great Britain, Italy. Spain)” (pp. 11). All the system re-confirm inequalities in one way or the other to early entrant and young person’s labour market career. Also, the prolongation in higher education shows the tendency among young people to escape unemployment and labour market entrance as an option to stay in the schooling process that is particularly practiced in post-socialist welfare states (pp. 12).
Secondly, the production regimes determine the industrial relations through the “(…) types of work councils, collective bargaining systems, the power of unions versus employer organizations, labour legislation or administrative regulations” (pp. 13) that are regulated and coordinate by the varieties of capitalism types in the political economy known as “coordinated” (close employment relation) and “uncoordinated” (open employment relations) market economies (pp. 13). In this case, the employment relations and degree of openness have consequences for early labour market entrants and young people career. (pp. 13).
Thirdly, the European countries Welfare regimes is not singular but plural base on national ideologies towards social solidarity and equality perspectives as well as gender approach (pp. 16) that commit to policies such active labour market policies to assist in job placement, welfare-sustaining employment exit policies, extend the share of public sector, and offer generous family and service allowances to support the society. As a matter of fact, following five welfare regimes (i.e. the liberal, the social democratic, the conservative, the family-oriented, and the post-socialist) react differently even though the rising labour market flexibility intensifies existing social inequalities (pp. 17-18). They pursue different institutional governance that either regulates or deregulate various production systems with a flexible labour market or about to carry out flexibilisation that steer young peoples` school to work transition process which is associated with uncertainties and precarious employment forms (pp. 21-28).
However, globalisation has caused a rise in employment flexibility in most European countries that has evolved a particular influence in both labour market entries and the early careers of young people (pp. 21).
Reference:
Allmendinger, J. (1989): “Education systems and labour market outcomes.” European Sociological Review 5: 231-250
Blossfeld et al. (2005): Flexibility processes and social inequalities at labor market entry and in the early career: a conceptual paper for the flexCAREER project. (Working paper 1) Bamberg.
Blossfeld et al. (2005): Globalization, Uncertainty, and Youth in Society. London/New York: Rouledge.

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