Negotiating Early Job Insecurity and Labour Market Exclusion in Europe (NEGOTIATE)

  • Hvinden, Bjørn (PI)
  • O'Reilly, Jacqueline (CoI)
  • Bussi, Margherita (CoI)
  • Hyggen, Christer (CoI)

    Project Details


    NEGOTIATE examined the long- and short-term consequences of experiencing job insecurity or labour market exclusion in the transition to adulthood.

    It was an EU-funded research project centred on young people in Europe, receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 649395.

    By actively involving national and European stakeholders, as well as young people themselves, the project contributed to evidence-based and effective policies preventing the adverse effects of early job insecurity and youth unemployment.

    NEGOTIATE researchers aimed to:

    > analyse how adverse labour market conditions for young adults affect their scope for active agency on the pathway to adulthood
    > examine young adults’ own perceptions of job prospects and their scope for negotiating their position
    > map the general context in which young people in Europe form their work expectations and negotiate labour market integration and transition from youth to adulthood
    > improve our understanding of the mechanisms leading to cross-country variations in the individual consequences of early job insecurity
    > gain comparative knowledge about the long-term consequences of young people’s job insecurity through analyses of the life courses of older birth cohorts
    > gain insights into employers’ evaluations and risk-assessments of young job applicants in different policy contexts across Europe
    deliver new knowledge about the conditions under which early job insecurity has the least adverse outcomes for subjective and objective wellbeing
    assess the coordination of policy measures and strategies to strengthen young people’s negotiating position in labour market transitions, integrating the horizontal and vertical dimensions of coordination in the context of European multi-level governance
    inform the public and facilitate policy learning about factors that foster societal resilience at national and European levels.

    Key findings

    NEGOTIATE was a three-year project. By actively involving national and European stakeholders – including young people – NEGOTIATE contributed to policies that promote the employability of young Europeans, thus maximising societal and scientific impact.

    Two edited volumes from the NEGOTIATE project were published with Edward Elgar: Youth Unemployment and Early Job Insecurity in Europe ( & Negotiating Early Job Insecurity in Europe (

    Key findings in brief

    Young adults actively use resources at their disposal to overcome job insecurity and the threat of prolonged unemployment. The odds are not the same for all though – researchers shine light on important differences both within and between countries.

    Labour market exclusion is not a new concern, but the 2008 crisis and the ensuing Great Recession has prompted many to rethink how we examine related factors and issues. The EU-funded project NEGOTIATE has provided new, gender-sensitive and comparative knowledge about the consequences of early job insecurity.

    The work took into account the actions (active agency) of young people to mediate such effects. “Such activities may include using their own skills and knowledge or those of their family or acquaintances to contact potential employers, or the services and assistance of employment and social services,” explains Professor Bjørn Hvinden, project coordinator. In other instances, they return to school, find ways to enhance their skills, or move somewhere where there are more job vacancies, perhaps even beyond national borders.

    Research built on analyses combining existing large-scale comparative statistical data sets with original qualitative data from 211 life course interviews conducted in 7 countries. The interviews gave a better picture of young people’s actions, the long-term consequences of early job insecurity and generated new knowledge on related ‘scarring’. The term refers to reduced employment prospects, complete exclusion from paid work, diminished well-being or even long-term health issues.

    The usual ‘suspects’

    Certain groups of young adults face greater obstacles in exercising active agency. NEGOTIATE identified young women, children from low socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, and young people with ethnic minority background as particularly vulnerable.

    Research into the dynamics of scarring in different national and institutional settings revealed marked differences in scarring patterns between countries and significant differences within countries related to education and gender.

    Project partners considered another aspect of scarring: ways in which employers assess job applicants. One study showed that Bulgarian and Greek employers showed less concern about unemployment spells in job applicants’ CVs, but that Norwegian and Swiss employers evaluated unemployment experience more strictly. Other findings suggest that recruiters penalise job applicants with extensive work experience in deskilling jobs – where a worker neither uses previously acquired qualifications nor develops them further.

    Improved policy can boost active agency and job security

    The project’s single most important finding has to do with the impact of a range of factors in scarring of young adults. “However,” Hvinden says, “it is important to note that the impact of such factors is not universal but contingent.”

    The importance of contextual factors means there is no one approach that can be applied across Europe or its sub-regions. Findings have important policy implications at both the EU and national levels.

    National public employment services need to assess carefully what measures or combination of measures are most appropriate in individual cases. They must account for prior skills and job experience as well as the country’s current labour market situation. Another consideration is the underused potential for policy learning and best practice exchanges between Member States in the European Employment Strategy. Additionally, “the EU needs to promote better balances between supply- and demand-oriented measures in Member States,” the professor underlines.

    Dissemination – nationally and across the EU

    Various research teams have contributed book chapters and published articles in international peer-reviewed journals – in both English and foreign-language publications. Finally, the NEGOTIATE team will publish two edited volumes: ‘Youth unemployment and job insecurity in Europe: Problem, risk factors and policies’ and ‘Negotiating early job insecurity: Well-being, scarring and resilience of European youth’.

    NEGOTIATE researchers discussed possible policy implications of their findings with representatives of policymakers and other stakeholders, at both European and national levels. Supporting events included dissemination and stakeholder meetings, conferences and TV debates.

    Researchers expect that project results “will also influence future research on youth unemployment and precarity and the short- and long-term consequences of early job insecurity.”

    Effective start/end date1/09/1531/08/18


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