European employers' perspectives on long-term unemployment, recruitment and public employment services

Published Mon 4 May 2015
Based on original polling across five European countries, this report explores employers' views on a range of issues related to long-term unemployment – their attitudes towards the unemployed, especially on skills and employability, and the effectiveness of their contact with public employment services.

Employers are central to resolving long-term unemployment: they will decide whether or not to employ someone who is long-term unemployed (out of work for six months or more). The coexistence of both long-term unemployment and skills shortages indicates that there is a business case for better employment support policy, as well as a social case. That being the case, it is unsurprising that both the supply-side measures that dominate policymaking, and the more limited use of demand-side interventions designed to complement them, seek to meet employers' needs.

Understanding employers' attitudes and behaviour in hiring decisions is, therefore, essential: their views, whether they are accurate or not, are a material consideration. This report aims to deepen that understanding, drawing on an original survey of 2,552 employers across five European countries – the UK, Sweden, Spain, Germany and France – which asked them a series of questions related to the long-term unemployed and employment services. It provides a rich variety of insights into employer's attitudes regarding skills deficits and other barriers to employment, and the nature and quality of their interactions with public employment services.

To inform its recommendations for how the relationships between employment services and employers can be improved, the report presents a number of findings about employers' perceptions and attitudes, highlighting illuminating contrasts and commonalities between countries. 

  • 33 per cent of employers who had recruited the long-term unemployed did so because they had a better attitude than other candidates; 37 per cent found them well- or very well-prepared for work, compared to only 13 per cent who did not.
  • Most employers (56 per cent) didn't have contact with public employment services in their country: the proportion that did engage varied between countries, with 49 per cent of French employers but just 33 percent of UK employers surveyed reporting they had been in contact.
  • Employers across all five countries criticised government policy on employment, with 58 per cent saying it was ineffective and only 34 per cent saying it was effective.

The report highlights a mismatch between employment policies in place in key European countries and employers' views on the policies needed to get long-term unemployed people into work. While 60 per cent of the employers surveyed across Europe did recruit from among the long-term unemployed, only 15 per cent of those did so because of government policy. 

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