Williams, Mark, Gallie, Duncan and Inanc, Hande
The vulnerability of the low-skilled.
In: The low pay, low skill, and low income (LOPSI) cross-cutting workshop , 26-27 Jun 2009, Milan, Italy.
The low-skilled are a critical category for analyses of labour market marginalization. Class analysis has tended to depict low-skilled employees as sharing a broadly similar position with respect to both employment and labour market conditions. Their employment relationship is defined by a specific type of contract – the labour contract – characterized by precarious pay, low asset specificity and high job insecurity. This contrasts with employees who benefit from a service relationship which is designed to bind employees to the organization on a longer term basis. Recent neo-institutional theories however have emphasized the diversity of employment conditions between advanced
capitalist societies, depending in particular on the nature of their production, employment and welfare regimes. An important issue is whether such divergences apply only to more skilled categories of the workforce (and hence
lead to accentuated polarization) or also affect the employment conditions of the low-skilled. Are the low-skilled significantly more integrated into the labour
market in some countries than in others and hence less vulnerable in times of economic restructuring? The paper will examine this by comparing a number of EU-15 countries that have been regarded as reflecting contrasting institutional regimes. It will focus in particular on the position of the low-skilled with respect to pay, training and job security.
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