Innovative social and labour market policies in Europe in times of crisis
Van Berkel, Rik
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Ellison, M. & Van Berkel, R. (2014) Innovative social and labour market policies in Europe in times of crisis. International Social Security Review, 67 (2), pp. 1-9.
Employment is crucial for people's well-being and economic growth. Promoting job creation and tackling the economic and social consequences of unemployment, underemployment and preventing social exclusion are a priority for all our countries. Although G20 countries are at different stages of development and there is no one size fits all- labour market policy, G20 countries will benefit from well-designed, integrated and consistent public policies.(G20 Labour and Employment Ministers' Declaration, 18-19 July 2013) Since 2008, the global economic and financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures are estimated to have resulted in the loss of 10 million jobs across Europe. Moreover, fiscal consolidation measures have led to reductions in funding for social security and related labour market measures across most European welfare settings. Within these constraints, innovative social security and labour market measures have been developed to enable inclusivity whilst also promoting the structural resilience of labour markets to economic recession. Structural issues of underemployment and wage depression have significantly intensified this challenge. For the purposes of this themed issue, a pragmatic definition of innovation where mainstream- policies within specific national contexts serve as the point of reference for qualifying policies as new- or innovative is adopted. Critically addressing the underlying rationale, scope and impacts of specific social security and employment measures across a number of European countries, this themed issue aims to assess the characteristics and impact of innovative social security and employment policies in promoting key labour market objectives. These key objectives include the use of short-term policy instruments to counteract the impact of economic crises on the employability and labour market access of vulnerable groups and those aimed at improving the long-term capacity and resilience of distinct European societies and labour markets to cope with economic crises and labour market restructuring. This set of themed papers has been chosen to be published by the International Social Security Review because the subject matter coincides and is supportive of the topical priorities of the International Social Security Association for the triennium 2014-2016; namely, i) they investigate a number of proposed innovative responses as regards to how social security programmes may better support social cohesion and economic growth and ii) address issues related to how social security programmes may better adapt their current practices to cater to the needs of atypical- population groups. Within this issue, atypical- groups are defined as vulnerable groups within the labour market including young people (younger than age 25), migrants and disabled workers. Employment figures reveal that the unemployment rate in these groups is significantly higher than the average unemployment rate in all European countries.