In which European country are job seekers most likely to find a job, where does the situation look more difficult? How can the large international differences in the number and quality of vacant jobs be explained and, above all, what does this mean for Europe’s young people? A recent study by Glassdoor Economic Research provides answers – and yet leaves many things in the dark.
The labour markets in 16 European countries were examined on the basis of six criteria: in addition to classical indicators such as the change in the employment rate since the outbreak of the financial crisis, the unemployment rate and youth unemployment, the rate of involuntary part-time workers, the share of fixed-term contracts in total and, finally, the share of fixed-term contracts among young people are examined as causes of opportunities on the labour market.
On twelve pages, the report reveals the supposedly greatest challenges facing European jobseekers. Employees and employers should thus be able to see in which countries it is easy to find a job and in which it is difficult – and why.
Massive differences within Europe
These figures have been well known for quite some time: Greece and Spain have the highest unemployment rates in Europe at around 25 percent. The lowest proportion of unemployed people of working age is found in Norway, Switzerland and Germany, at around five percent. But what does this mean for the job search within Europe?
According to Glassdoor, the unemployment rate goes hand in hand with job prospects: the greatest chances of finding a job are in Estonia, Norway, Great Britain and Austria. The reasons for this are partly obvious, as these countries have recovered particularly well from the global financial crisis and are therefore experiencing relatively low unemployment rates and so-called underemployment.
In three of these countries, Estonia, the UK and Norway, the number of temporary contracts is also the lowest – so security on the labour market is taken into account. The study’s point of comparison is the USA, the country that is often equated with a dynamic economy and the corresponding job opportunities.
Strong regulations like in France slow down job seekers
According to Glassdoor, the overall condition of any economy is crucial for job seekers, especially the speed of economic growth and the sectors that drive it, but also its sustainability and the underlying structural characteristics of the labour market – especially its regulation by policy.
An end to the crisis or a crisis without end?
At the bottom of the list of best job prospects are Spain, Greece and Portugal, the southern European countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis. An undynamic labour market, combined with a less promising economy, is seen here as the root of all evil. Greece and Spain in particular are struggling with high unemployment, sometimes affecting up to 25 per cent of the working population. Moreover, in Spain and Portugal, but also in the Netherlands, temporary contracts are particularly widespread – the consequences, including low flexibility, poor pay and low security, affect all age and occupational groups.
Europe’s youth faces major challenges
These findings are often worrying, especially for Europe’s youth, as youth unemployment has been rising almost everywhere since the beginning of the crisis in 2008. The most drastic cases are in Spain and Greece (over 50 percent), Italy (almost 45 percent) and Portugal (35 percent). France, Ireland, Belgium and Finland also offer no rosy prospects with 20 to 25 percent. The consequences can be devastating: In individual cases, career entry is hindered, but at the political level there is a risk of unrest and uprisings.
Fortunately, there are also positive developments, such as in Great Britain, where the youth unemployment rate is now falling again. With currently 17 percent, the kingdom is approaching the figures before the crisis – with 15 percent, however, not a result to rest on. Austria, Switzerland and Norway are also approaching pre-crisis levels, with Germany even below.
Common solutions at European level
The Glassdoor Report provides information – but does not go far enough. What are the consequences of the fact that it is much easier to get a job in Great Britain than in Portugal? Which sectors are particularly promising, which qualifications are in demand internationally? And what does this mean for the much-discussed migration to Europe, but also within Europe?
Although Glassdoor, according to Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain, has set itself the task of helping people find a job and an employer they love, the international comparison of the company is less helpful than it promises: in order to draw conclusions from the analysis, issues such as mobility, migration and training must be included. It is now up to politicians to take up the results of the study.