Since the nineties 'employability' has become a main target of the EU Employment Strategy as well as of welfare state transformation in different member states. Reforms enhancing so called activating strategies seem to indicate a major change from the traditional 'social security' welfare state to a 'cooperative' welfare state. This implies a shift of state expenditure from passive (unemployment remuneration) to active labour market instruments stressing the entry/re-entry into employment. In this context new forms of governance gain importance: Decentralisation of administration and privatisation of services increase. Individual contracts define public and personal responsibilities for each case. The main focus of this analysis, however, will be the coordination between formerly separate policy fields, namely between labour market, education and family policies as a form of reflexive governance. Particularly for weakly integrated labour market groups like poorly qualified people or mothers with small children this is supposed to be a condition to create employability.
Drawing to these changes the study asks whether the EU reform goal of 'employability' leads to a convergence of new forms of governance in labour market policies. The selected countries include the UK, Denmark and Germany representing different welfare regimes, eventually including Poland as a new EU member state and transformation society. Main areas of comparative analysis are the adaptation of the EU guidelines in national reforms of labour market policy, and the design and outcome of national labour market and family policies focusing especially on new forms of governance. Due to different national labour market and gender regimes divergent adaptations of activating strategies and different reform outcomes are expected.
Methods range from the analysis of documents, legal and institutional contexts of policy reforms to statistical research of the socio-structural impact and to expert interviews with relevant actors of reform policies.
Project application 2003-2006 in German