The “Troubled” Youth in Labour Market – Political Discussion and Its Outcomes. the Polish Case

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW2.1.01 (Tower Two)
Ewa Slezak, Cracow University of Economics, Krakow, Poland
The systemic transformation of the 1990s with its neoliberal reforms has brought about a tremendous outbreak of inequalities in Poland. The unemployment and poverty rates were skyrocketing, while social problems touched many social and age groups. 25 years into the capitalist rule macroeconomical indicators suggest a steady progress while inequalities in Poland remain intact or are  rising,[1]even though the unemployment rate is rather low in comparison with other EU states.  This refers also to the young people enetering the labour market; their unemployment rate is hihg by the Polish standards, yet not as extreme as in many EU PIIGS countries.

Surely, the  young people entering the labour market today are a very diversified group. They vary when it comes to their expectations, but also a type of their education and a level of education completed. On the top of the above a previous contact with the labor market, their family situation, and age should be added. It is often that the young people are employed on temporary contracts, which causes a feeling of insecurity. On the other hand there are also individuals who have a steady job and certainty in regards to their further career.

Various conditions are  blamed for worrisome situation of many young people. These include  a mismatch between skills of individuals and needs of the labour market, a numerical  mismatch between the growing number of graduates leaving university and  a corresponding number of vacant or new jobs, a deficit of technical degree graduates, or  outdated mode of training in vocational education establishments to name just a few.

These condition lead to a phenomenon observed by analysts and policymakers: the young are one of the groups suffering  the most at present in the labour market as they experience problems with finding a suitble  position. Thus, the ongoing debate focuses on their situation lists various systemic explanations to their troublesome position. Surely, this stance has been used by politicians and policymakers, to include the young in their speeches, political programmes and formulated policies.

The paper aims at analyzing various perspectives addressing the young since the early days before the EU accession (the ex-communist) government  till present 2015 liberal government. It is interesting to see to what extent the young are present as individual groups in the political discourse, whether it was seen as one of many groups that needed to be addressed in the political agenda or they were seen as an important  actor to be addressed. Furthermore,  from the policy level what measures are dedicated to the young and whther they focused on improving their transition to the labour market. Finally, if these measured were implemented and how effective these measures are.