Flexicurity and worker training
In difficult economic times such as the present ones it is necessary to rely more and more on people as essential resources for investment in order to remain competitive in one's own production sector, and seize the opportunity to devote more efforts to and experiment with flexicurity policies, i.e. to implement the system of labour protection that characterises the most advanced European countries in a framework of high worker flexibility. The increasing recourse to the Wage Guarantee Fund and to redundancies forces Veneto to adopt careful measures of outplacement, i.e. retraining workers made redundant and helping to find them new jobs. All workers, whether employed or not, are required to be more mobile and flexibile to better adapt to the changes and needs of companies. To this end, a central role is given to lifelong learning, an opportunity that should be given to all people, as it should help workers to face rapid changes, times of unemployment and transition to new jobs.
Adult learning and competence improvement are measured by the European Council, which has set the target of involving 12.5% of the adult population aged 25 to 64 in lifelong learning by 2010. As of 2007 EU27 was at 9.5%, over 2% more than five years before. Italy and Veneto rank below this with 6.2% and 6.6% respectively. Northern European countries are performing very well: three years before the target deadline they are well ahead of schedule. First comes Sweden, where 32% of the population aged 25 to 64 state they attend study or professional training courses, followed closely by Denmark with 29%. In Italy the highest ranking regions are Trentino Alto Adige and Lazio with 8.4% and 8.3% respectively. (Figure 5.2.1)
In view of the downturn, Veneto has done its best to reduce the impact of the crisis and recover as soon as possible. In February 2009 a plan was approved to face the crisis. This is a framework agreement which places workers, households and companies at the centre of its strategy; it has several objectives, including ensuring households adequate income support, also by trying to protect people with no social security, streamlining the use of available financial resources, supporting retraining and re-employment of workers on mobility lists, as well as preventing a distorted use of social security and the use of illegal labour.
Finally, in a constantly changing market such as labour, addressing contract mobility is important, especially with a view to turning temporary work contracts into more permanent ones, and to professional mobility, thus tracing the professional growth of a person over time. If we consider the difficulty young people encounter in finding a job and the global commitment to training increasingly higher qualified labour to confront a more dynamic and innovative market, it is interesting to analyse the position of graduates.
Contract stability for graduates
According to a survey carried out by the Consorzio Interuniversitario Almalaurea in 2007 (Note 1)
, one year after graduation over 42% of the graduates who were employed in 2007 in the Veneto labour market were offered a permanent job. The ratio rises to 74.5% after five years, over 4% above the national average. For their first job the contracts graduates are offered are flexible, atypical ones in 45.6% of cases overall. Over the next few years these contracts are offered to less than one quarter of graduates. Veterinary doctors and engineers have their temporary-work contract turned into a permanent one more often in Veneto. After five years 92% of veterinary medicine graduates have a permanent job; more often than not they are self-employed, which is quite understandable considering the features of their degree course. In 89% of cases, engineers are given permanent jobs, especially ones with open-ended contracts, which account for 70% of the total number of engineers.
Both one and five years after graduation, work stability concerns more men than women. The difference can be ascribed to the ratio of self-employment in the two groups. As soon as they finish university, 46 men compared to 39 women out of 100 find permanent employment in Veneto. The gap widens after five years, when almost 81% of male graduates find permanent employment against 70% of female graduates. Similarly, atypical jobs concern more women than men. Compared to their male colleagues, the number of women with atypical contracts one year after graduation is 5% higher, while it is 11% higher after five years. The higher percentage of women with atypical contracts is due above all to the widespread use of fixed-term contracts. (Table 5.2.1)
The professional mobility of graduates
One year after graduation men already have higher positions than women. In line with the national average, in Veneto too the percentage of male graduates working in a medium-high position is much higher than for female graduates (45.1% compared with 31.2%); there is a similar situation for freelancers (9.7% compared with 4.1%), and self-employed workers (4.8% compared with 1.5%). A minor difference for graduates in Veneto compared to the rest of Italy only concerns managerial positions of women: 4.8% are women and 4.5% are men. Women make up a higher percentage than men in teaching (20% compared to 4.5%), executive white-collar work (10.8% compared to 8.2%), and jobs without a contract (5.1% compared to 1.7%).
What is even more interesting is the change in the profession after a number of years. Over five years men and women improve their positions both as employed and self-employed workers, though differences between genders are virtually unchanged and confirm the different distribution in professional positions. Five years after graduation, a higher number of people of both genders are employed at high level, but the gap between men and women remains, and even widens, as men in managerial positions account for 11.5% while women still 5.2%. Fewer women are deciding to become teachers and more are becoming freelance professionals and self-employed. The number of collaborators and people without a contract is much lower, especially among men. (Figure 5.2.2)