On April 29, 2015, the “Youth in the Labor Market” panel was held in a packed hall of Green Action in Zagreb. The panel featured a presentation of results of an eponymous study conducted by the members of the Ready to Work initiative that operates within the CESI—Center for Education, Counseling and Research.

The speakers were the Gender Equality Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić, Assistant Minister of Labor and Pension System Tatjana Dalić, and members of the initiative and study authors Anja Repalist and Irena Velimirović.

Višnja Lubić opened her presentation by clarifying that discrimination against women isn’t a problem only in Croatia, but also in other EU countries. She emphasized that discrimination against women denies them the right to live and work free of violence, coercion, and fear as well as the right to secure employment. In 2014, most complaints made to the Ombudswoman’s Office were in relation to age discrimination and discrimination against mothers. An increasing trend of complaints about sexual harassment, especially in the workplace was also noted. She also pointed out that in the last 7 years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of employment contracts—in 2008, it was 81%, but rose to 94.2% in 2014. She concluded her presentation with the results of a study co-organized by the Gender Equality Ombudswoman and the RODA—Parents in Action NGO, showing that 55.3% of mothers lose their jobs. Ljubičić emphasized that women should be given the opportunity to achieve the balance between work and family as her suggestion on how to improve the status of women in the labor market and employment. She also pointed up that fathers should be encouraged to take paternity leave because the pervasive discrimination against women in employment is directly affecting the country’s declining birth rate.

Tatjana Dalić briefly introduced the Youth Guarantee. She also pointed out that she was personally particularly bothered by a sexist question which is rarely or never addressed to men, which is how do they manage to balance family and work. She thinks that the society has reached the stage of development where men and women can equally participate in household and family duties. She reported that according to results available to the Ministry of Labor and Pension System, the graduate unemployment rate was only 11.9%, but also added that every 7th young person was unemployed. She pointed out that as a youth employment measure, the vocational training without employment was unfortunately just a substitute for a failure of the education system.

Anja Repalust presented the findings of the “Youth in the labor market” survey. 2,947 people from all Croatian counties participated in the survey. She stated that the findings indicate that young women are in a peculiar situation: they are less employed, more educated but worse paid, more financially dependent, and much more likely to work in insecure employment relations. Young women are twice as discriminated against in the labor market and employment based on their age and gender and are more likely to be asked discriminating questions during job interviews.

The results of the “Youth in the labor market” survey show that every other young person in Croatia is unemployed, which is consistent with other surveys conducted in recent years. The wages of 60% of youth are under the Croatian average (HRK 5,500), or about HRK 4,500, which is insufficient for financial independence. The total of 67.5% of employed youth needs financial help, and the respondents reported that they were receiving financial aid, mostly from parents or partners (44.2%). It is therefore not surprising that only 14% of respondents have “not at all” considered moving abroad.

Gender differences are noticeable in a number of findings of this survey—men are more likely to work under indefinite term contracts and dominate the private sector, while women more often work under fixed-term employment contracts and are more likely to work in the civil service and public sector. Although women achieve better results during education and make a larger percentage of the graduates, they still make less than the male respondents.

The survey results have also shown that there’s no difference between the youth who has gained work experience in their field while studying (by volunteering or part-time jobs) and those who haven’t, which means that the results don’t support the opinion that young people with work experience more readily find employment. Finally, the results reveal that a staggering 34% of young people have seriously considered leaving Croatia.

Get more info about the survey at www.cesi.hr.

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