This book takes a fresh look at the issue of job quality, analysing employer behaviour and discussing the agenda for policy intervention. The contributions in the volume provide new perspectives on a highly debated and policy relevant issue. Between 1997 and 2002, more than twelve million new jobs were created in the European Union and labour market participation increased by more than eight million. Whilst a good deal of these new jobs have been created in high-tech and/or knowledge-intensive sectors providing workers with decent pay, job security, training and career development prospects, a significant share of jobs, particularly in labour-intensive service sector industries fail to do so. Increased concern over the quality of jobs has been fostered also by a number of stylised facts such as increasing earnings inequality, greater job flexibility, labour market de-regulation and the de-centralisation of collective bargaining, coupled with lower unionisation and greater competitive pressure. These developments have contributed to a generalised perception of a deterioration of the overall quality of the jobs exposing workers at disproportionate risk of unemployment and social exclusion. Whilst supply side explanations have traditionally been used to explain why some individuals are on the margins of the labour market or are socially excluded, the role of the demand side has been neglected. In particular, what are the charactersitics of firms and employers operating in the 'low wage-low quality' labour market? Why do low quality jobs tend to be disproportionately concentrated in labour-intensive service sector industries? Which features should be the focus of firm level policies directed at improving the 'quality' of work for the low paid and low skilled workers
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