growth is inclusive: what does the right recipe for future employment look like?

Inclusive growth is what we are all looking for. Growth that reduces unemployment, creates quality jobs, reduces informal work situations and decreases inequality. It’s quite a complex recipe to find in a rather challenging environment with diverse and sometimes seemingly opposite trends to tackle. Today, Europe’s labor market is faced with high unemployment on the one side, and, at the same time, remarkable skills gaps, which will become even more prominent in the future, on the other side. Today, 38% of employers report they cannot fill their vacancies, mostly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) functions. And in the not so distant future, a demographic issue is looming with what could lead to a potential shortage of millions and millions of workers, up to 35 million in Europe alone. What to do? Of course I don’t have the magic solution. Nobody does. The best combination, however, is like any other recipe made of multiple ingredients, which all have their own unique flavor and particular role to play. It’s all about the mixture, the blend. It’s all about cooperation: key word when talking about solutions for our labor markets.

Building a more inclusive labor market is a key objective of the European Commission’s Europe 2020 Strategy to increase workforce participation. Randstad's role is that we can support business’ and workers finding the best way into and on the labor markets and by doing so we support workers during their career life and we help businesses to be innovative and competitive. But as I’ve mentioned, we cannot do this alone. We often work together with partners in the public area like public employment services and governments and of course with employers organizations and NGO’s. If we look at one of today’s key issues: youth unemployment. We see that in April 2015, 4.746 million young persons under 25 were unemployed in the EU. A significant number – and each year another 5 million new starters enter the labor market looking for a job.

Research shows that in particular youth unemployment is partly caused by a mismatch in the labor market. Youngsters also often go into fields of study, and have qualifications, with which it is difficult to find jobs; many having chosen studies like architecture, or cultural sciences that are less in demand than studies in science and mathematics. More attention needs to be given to providing realistic labour information to our youngsters in education. A key role for governments and education institutions. Although the number of STEM students and graduates are increasing in Europe, there is still a huge difference with China. A comparison: In China more than 40% of all degrees awarded are STEM degrees. In Europe this is only 22,8%.

But having said that, reality today is, that young people don’t always possess exactly the right skills set employers ask for in their often elaborate vacancy postings. Young talent simply doesn't recognize themselves in it and as a result doesn’t apply. That's where we come in. One of the everyday conversations our consultants have with employers looking for talent to fill a vacancy is explaining that 'a sheep with 5 legs rarely exists and that they might have to settle for one with 3 legs sometimes. We do this well, because our clients often find that it's the perfect fit in the end. It’s about matching realistic expectations with real needs. It is so important to give young talent the possibility to gain experience in a job. That can well be a quality temporary job. Certainly if that makes it easier to give them a chance on the labor market. Provide a step stone to work, to gaining experience in order to move on. Getting experience is the most important determinant for youth to start on and then move up the career ladder. Experience determines income and thus security and a quality life. When the employment crisis really hit the Netherlands in 2012 the Dutch government created a youth employment Task Force. Randstad was asked to participate. We said yes of course, but we also said: stop talking and let’s just do. Action is needed now to support youth looking for their first job. So here’s what we did.

Randstad Netherlands has now run 2 large-scale Youth@Work campaigns, one in October 2013 en then again in October 2014. It’s a large multimedia, multiple stakeholders campaign aimed at giving 10,000 unemployed young people the support they sometimes need to get them going in the labor market. The duration of the campaigns has been one month. And both editions have been so successful that preparations for the 3rd campaign in October this year, have already started. The campaign is completely focused on youth unemployment. Randstad and the Dutch Government partner to find jobs for as many unemployed youths, under age 25, as possible during one month, asking for the support of all Dutch employers. Each young person only needs one employer to kick-start their career. As said, in 2013 Randstad organized the ‘Youth on the Move" program for the first time. It was a huge success: of the nearly 10,000 youngsters who found a job then, nearly 2 years ago, about 75% is still working. We still keep track of them. They can return to us for a next job if their current one ends. What the campaign results clearly illustrates again is how important gaining experience is. Getting our young starters to dive into the labor market, and making the transition from education to employment or from unemployment to employment.

Simple, straightforward and impact oriented, but so effective. Fortunately, we see more and more cooperative initiatives booming. Innovative partnerships for employment. The ingredients of the recipe for inclusive growth are being mixed together and they are starting to deliver some nice results. Getting that inclusive growth we all long for.

For data and research on the mix of flexible labor, download our latest research report "flexibility@work 2015".

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