The unequal treatment of older and younger people in the workplace
For young career starters, a decently remunerated full-time job is more the exception than the rule. “Generation Internship” are often expected to work for free, often for many years, before they can get a professional job. Young people are now treated as second-class workers.
More than half of young employees are engaged in poorly paid, precarious work. 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 do complete an internship are then 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 less well looked-after by the welfare state.
Structural discrimination against young people in the labour market must end:
- Exploitative short-term employment must be prohibited. Subcontracted labour, service contracts and mini-jobs must be fair.
- The minimum wage must also protect young people from poverty and exploitation. There must be no minimum age for the minimum wage.
- Legal and trade union protections against unfair dismissal must also apply to younger people.
- Vocational training must be strengthened.
- Pay must not be based on age. Starting salaries have to be raised, paid for by smaller pay rises for older people.
- Job centres sanctioning young people more harshly must end.
- Age based discrimination must be explicitly prohibited in the Basic Law (Grundgesetz).
- Demographic change and ageing populations mean we need to think more seriously about how to make the world of work work for all age groups.
- We need more investment in education and training to deal with demographic change. Young people need to take centre stage.