Precarious Employment

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Sociology Essay

Young people and the difficulties faced in negotiating a precarious and exploitative labour market

The operational definition of youth varies widely from country to country but the UN defines youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old. Essay Question

Young people are confronted with the difficulties of negotiating a labour market that is precarious and exploitative. There are major difficulties of entry, especially into full-time work in the formal and informal waged economic spheres.

Introduction

This essay will discuss why young people are two to three times more likely than adults to find themselves unemployed and why the problem is rapidly growing in almost every region of the world. Although young people today are the most educated generation ever, both industrialised and developing countries are failing to increase employment opportunities for them. The lack of opportunities is of course linked to the general state of the economy and employment situation but it is also a result of the mismatches between the skills young people possess and the skills required by the labour market. All of these factors can lead to long periods of unemployment, job seeking or low skilled and precarious work, which are not only detrimental to young people but impact heavily on economies and society in general. (ILO tackling youth unemployment)

Globalisation

Globalisation and technological advances have been changing labour markets around the world. Young workers are facing new challenges in making the transition from school to work (Elizabeth Morris 2003). Globalisation is changing the distribution of power and gains and has raised questions about legitimacy and sustainability. Inadequate attention to the human side of globalisation has created a gap in understanding its impact on life and work (International Labour Office).

Economics
The 1980s and 1990s saw the most profound transformation of Australian public policy since World War II and in that it fundamentally reworked a framework in place since Federation (Castles et al 1996; Kelly 1994). This transformation was underwritten by two principles: liberalism - the view that citizens are autonomous individual actors whose interests are best served when they are free from coercive government interventions into individual action (Yeatman 2000); and marketisation - the belief that free markets are arenas which best enable individual autonomy and produce efficient outcomes (Marginson 1997). These principles define ‘neoliberalism’ or ‘hard liberalism’ (Argy 2003). How have these policy changes affected Australia? An advocate would say it created improved economic outcomes greater market efficiencies, less public expenditure less reliance on social welfare and more individual choice. For a critic it increases inequality, corrodes quality of life and produces an atomised society in which individuals are culturally disconnected from one another and fundamental social institutions (Pusey 2003; Saunders 2002:8-12, ch 2). The primary arguments for neoliberalism are economic, mostly that a free market is necessary for economic, employment and income growth (Kenworthy 2004). However, with the structural changes that have occurred the nature of work has changed with greater casualisation, more part-time work at the cost of full-time employment along with changes in working conditions such as irregular working hours. Income inequality has increased (Saunders 2003). The government has encouraged individuals to be responsible for their own welfare. The market was seen as a more efficient distributor of resources than the state.

Skills and Knowledge
In an increasingly globalised, competitive and rapidly changing economy the skills and knowledge of young people are becoming more and more important to existing businesses, and are necessary to those wishing to set up their own successful business. It is crucial that young people get a...
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