The unequal treatment of the old and the young in the workplace

The polar­iza­tion between Old and Young on the labour mar­ket is pro­gress­ing.
For young career starters, a decent­ly remu­ner­at­ed full-time job is more the excep­tion than the rule. The debate about the “Gen­er­a­tion Intern­ship”, i.e. the increas­ing abuse of intern­ships among stu­dents and grad­u­ates, is only symp­to­matic of the spread of vul­ner­a­ble forms of employ­ment among young career starters. Young peo­ple are now treat­ed as sec­ond-class work­ers.

More than half of the young employ­ees work at low wages and under pre­car­i­ous con­di­tions. Tem­po­rary agency work has almost dou­bled among young employ­ees. Every sec­ond new hire is hired based on a short-term con­tract. Only one in three young peo­ple who have com­plet­ed their train­ing is tak­en on for an indef­i­nite peri­od. Young work­ers also have less legal pro­tec­tion against dis­missals and are dis­missed more quick­ly. Young peo­ple are far more at risk of pover­ty than old­er peo­ple and have less to expect from the wel­fare state.

Struc­tur­al dis­crim­i­na­tion against young peo­ple in the labour mar­ket must end:

1. Where the flex­i­bil­i­ty of the labour mar­ket leads to dis­crim­i­na­tion, this abuse must be curbed. Unfound­ed short-term employ­ment must be pro­hib­it­ed. Sub­con­tract­ed labour, ser­vice con­tracts and mini-jobs must be fair.
2. Min­i­mum wages must pro­tect young peo­ple from pover­ty and exploita­tion. There must be no min­i­mum age for the min­i­mum wage.
3. The legal and col­lec­tive dis­missal pro­tec­tion against dis­missal must no longer dis­crim­i­nate against young peo­ple.
4. Voca­tion­al train­ing must be strength­ened.
5. Pay must not be based on age. The start­ing salaries have to be raised, in return the salaries of old­er high earn­ers can rise more mod­er­ate­ly.
6. The tougher sanc­tion­ing of young job­seek­ers by the job cen­tres must be pre­vent­ed.
7. The pro­hi­bi­tion of dis­crim­i­na­tion accord­ing to age must be enshrined in the prin­ci­ple of equal­i­ty laid down in the onsti­tu­tion.
8. In the course of demo­graph­ic change, a pol­i­cy for age-appro­pri­ate work is indis­pens­able.
9. We need more invest­ment in edu­ca­tion and train­ing to cope with demo­graph­ic change. Young peo­ple need to take cen­tre stage.