Report

Job Quality in Europe – Groups with multiple disadvantages

This report, based on data from the fifth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), aims at identifying occupations in Europe that have multiple disadvantages, thereby making it difficult for people to stay in these jobs.

Occupations where job quality is consistently low are labelled ‘occupations with multiple disadvantages’. These occupations score relatively poorly on all four indicators of job quality: earnings, job and career prospects, working time and intrinsic job quality.

The relationship between the structural characteristics of the workforce (such as gender composition, age, education and sector of economy) and the quality of an occupation is also assessed; and the differences among specific types of employees are discussed

Job quality indexes are constructed on the basis of such aspects of working conditions as earnings, prospects, working time, and intrinsic job quality (which includes skills, autonomy, the social environment, physical risks and work intensity).

This report uses data from the fifth European Working Conditions Survey to identify such occupations.

Key findings

Workers in mid-skilled manual and low-skilled occupations do quite poorly when it comes to earnings, prospects and intrinsic job quality, and they report relatively low levels of both physical and mental well-being. However, their working time quality is generally good. In contrast, workers in high-skilled occupations do relatively well on almost all job quality indicators, except working time.The analysis confirmed that different occupations are exposed to different working conditions and job quality.

There is a notable difference between occupational groups in terms of their earnings, job and career prospects, working time and intrinsic job quality. Moreover, differences between occupations are often related to the level of skill required for the performance of the tasks and duties. Workers in occupations requiring greater levels of skill (such as Managers, Professionals and Technicians) are more frequently found at the top of the job quality scale, while workers in mid-skilled manual jobs (such as Skilled agricultural forestry and fishery workers, Craft and related trade workers, Plant and machine operators) and those in Elementary occupations are more likely to be in the bottom half of the scale.

Workers in mid-skilled manual and low-skilled occupations do quite poorly when it comes to earnings, prospects and intrinsic job quality, and they report relatively low levels of both physical and mental well-being. However, their working time quality is generally good. In contrast, workers in high-skilled occupations do relatively well on almost all job quality indicators, except working time.

The average levels of earnings between occupational groups decreases smoothly from high-skilled occupations having the highest, towards mid-and-low-skilled occupations having relatively low average values. Professionals and managers report the highest earnings, with Skilled agricultural workers the lowest. Professionals, managers and technicians also reported the best prospects, with worse ones reported by mid-skilled service and manual workers and workers in Elementary occupations. Highly skilled occupations are also the best for intrinsic job quality. Working time is the only dimension that does not have a clear correlation to level of skill. Workers in Elementary occupations and Skilled agricultural workers report relatively similar levels of working time quality as workers in high-skilled occupations.

Occupations that scored poorly on all four job quality indicators (earnings, prospects, working time and intrinsic job quality) include Customer services; the Building trades; Food processing; Stationary plant and machine operators; Labourers; and Food preparation assistants. Occupations that scored highly include Chief executives, senior officials and legislators; Hospitality, retail and other services managers; Science and engineering professionals; and Information and communications technology professionals.

The analysis also illustrated that occupational inequalities can sometimes be associated with the individual characteristics of a workforce, rather than just by their working conditions. Young workers were found to be most likely to have a job with multiple disadvantages, compared with workers aged 50 and over. Also, less well-educated employees are the most likely to have jobs with multiple disadvantages.

The variations on almost all job quality indicators indicate that country differences and national labour market settings deserve further investigation, as cross-country differences might suggest a need for different policy approaches in Member States towards improving job quality.

Capture d’écran 2014-09-16 à 08.38.29

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Occupational profiles in working conditions: Identification of groups with multiple disadvantages – executive summary.

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