Employability is on the agenda. Yet, we lack the institutional structures and mechanisms to effectively promote it. Most of our labour institutions are at the national level on the one hand, on the industrial and company level on the other hand. Collective bargaining, for example, is typically geared to industries and companies. For the interindustrial or intersectoral levels we have some national forums, but no effective intermediate institutions and mechanisms. In our view, the phenomenon of the covenant may fill the gap. Covenants are an effective way of combining the public interest in enhanced employability, and the collective interests of employers and employees in an adequate, educated and 'empowered' labour force. Against the background of the needs of a 'knowledge economy' and the underinvestment in skills, in particular due to a one-sided 'flexibility' of the labour market, we first sketch the ambitions of the EU, and the present state and the shortcomings of the training efforts in the economy. Next, we explain what the covenant stands for, what its promises are for triggering more training and strengthening employability, and what role the critical issue of trusting co-operation is expected to play.
Ton Korver and Peter R. A. Oeij
Peter R. A. Oeij, Steven Dhondt and Ton Korver
Social innovation is becoming a core value of the EU flagship initiative Innovation Union, but it is not clearly demarcated as it covers a wide field of topics. To understand social innovation within European policymaking a brief outline is given of EC policy developments on innovation and on workplace innovation. Definitions of social innovation formulated at the societal level and the organizational or workplace level are discussed. Empirical research findings of workplace innovation in the Netherlands are presented as examples showing that workplace innovation activities boost organizational performance. The article explores the relation between workplace innovation and social innovation, and concludes that policy developments in the EU can be studied with the theory of social quality, provided that the latter in its empirical approach focuses on how individuals together constitute innovations.
Peter R.A. Oeij, Steven Dhondt and Noortje M. Wiezer
The European situation of new forms of work organisation and stress risks in jobs are described against the 'decentralisation-human factor orientation model', which discerns types of work organisation. 'Flexible firms' based on lean production have the highest probability of high strain jobs, predicting negative health effects. Among European employees, those working in high strain work organisations report the highest number of complaints with musculoskeletal problems, allergies and asthma and stress-related problems. Although new forms of work organisation are limited in occurrence, most of them tend towards lean production, indicating growing stress risks for employees. The authors suggest to reduce stress risks in jobs by redesigning those organisational conditions labelled as sources for these risks into work situations with a better balance in job demands and job control.
Jan Berting, Denis Bouget, Peter Herrmann, Gábor Juhász, Ton Korver, Peter R. A. Oeij, David Phillips and Paule Monique Vernes
Notes on Contributors
Paul Bissell, Denis Bouget, Steven Dhondt, Ota de Leonardis, Peter R. A. Oeij, Cathy Read, Paul Redgrave, Peter Taylor-Gooby, Philippe Tessier, Johan Van de Kerckhove, Paul Ward and Noortje M. Wiezer
Notes on contributors