Europe’s Changing Workplaces – Research Conference, April 3rd; Maynooth University

This conference may be of interest:

Europe’s Changing Workplaces

April 3rd 2017
National University of Ireland Maynooth

New Deals in the New Economy Project
Political Economy and Work Research Cluster
MUSSI and the Department of Sociology

Behind the deep economic troubles and political turmoil of the current era is a profound uncertainty about working life and employment – while some experience precarity and marginalisation, others work for significant rewards but at the cost of intense and intrusive work commitments. For almost all, ‘flexibility’ is an everyday reality at work – although flexibility can take many forms, for better and for worse.

  • What are the patterns of work in Europe today?
  • Where is work changing, and how?
  • Are there the seeds of a new ‘European model’ of work and employment?
  • What are its contradictions, challenges, conditions and prospects?

Admission is free but Registration is required. To view detailed programme and to register please go to:

Speakers include:

Jill Rubery (European Work and Employment Research Centre, University of Manchester) will speak about precarious work and social protection gaps across European countries.

Paolo Barbieri (Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento) will speak about labour market regulation, de-regulation and flexible employment in Europe.

Vanessa Gash (Department of Sociology, City University of London) will speak about gender inequalities within households in labour market access and rewards, and the effect of new employment patterns.

Valeria Pulignano (Centre for Sociological Research, KU Leuven) will speak about company production and union strategies, and mixes of flexibility and security in multinational firms in three countries.

Steen Navrbjerg (FAOS and Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen) will speak about the encounter in workplaces and industrial relations between the ‘Danish Model’ and liberalised international employment relations.

Seán Ó Riain and Amy Healy (Sociology and MUSSI, Maynooth University) will speak about New Deals in the New Economy research on changing work processes in the EU-15 and the links between new work practices and intensity, insecurity, intrusion and income at work.
Concluding Discussion with Bill Roche (UCD), Michael Doherty and Jane Gray (Maynooth University)


2 replies on “Europe’s Changing Workplaces – Research Conference, April 3rd; Maynooth University”

Where has everyone gone on this discussion forum? I’m feeling quite lonely.

This is an interesting topic and two Irishmen – Charles Handy and Mike Cooley – have been writing about the changing world of work since the 1980’s. Charles Handy in particular has been prophesising the end of ‘jobs for life’ and the new flexible economy for decades now. Jobs for life still exist in the public sector and many quangos, NGOs, trade unions and other social partners which are mirroring the terms and conditions of the public sector. It is probably ironic that virtually everyone speaking at this conference and the attendees are likely to be those in jobs for life.

I once worked for GE and I thought that Jack Welch had some interesting but quite brutal ideas on jobs. As CEO he practiced ‘decimation’: the bottom 10% of performers were culled regularly and new hires made. It certainly kept people on their toes. He used to say that good careers in GE could not guarantee lifetime employment but they could guarantee lifetime employability i.e. the skills learned in GE would transfer to any other employer.

I think Welch’s idea of lifetime employability is one to consider. How can people be educated and then encouraged to regularly update their skills and consider career changes? The only people I know who have made significant career changes are those who are wealthy and can afford to retrain and those who take early retirement from well-paid jobs and can afford to start new careers. For others it is very difficult e.g. I know someone working in administration in the public sector who has studied and passed all the ACCA accountancy exams and would like to work as an accountant but he would have to take unpaid leave for 3 years and work in an accounting practice to get accredited experience and then he would be starting at the lowest level. Similarly, my wife knows a primary school teacher who would love to retrain as a child psychologist but can’t afford it. I appreciate that in neither case does the state owe them the right to retrain but it could certainly make it easier for them e.g. through tax breaks or other. In the case of the teacher we believe she would make an excellent child psychologist. In both cases employers and society would probably benefit from having well-motivated employees working in their most suitable jobs and they could probably have a longer working life thus reducing their dependency on state benefits in old age.

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