human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Inclusive labour markets

ending poverty & exclusion


Over 18 million men and women in the EU are out of work, 7.4% of the total EU working-age population (September 2017).

The vast majority of families where the adults are unemployed are at risk of poverty.

Even 10% of the families where an adult is employed are at risk of regularly not having enough to eat or are unable to meet other basic needs because of low wages and precarious employment contracts.

I’ve been working for 10 years in precarious jobs. Currently, I have a contract in the frame of a municipal employment measure, but, for me, this is almost the same as being unemployed. My wage is €419 per month and I have three years of graduation studies, dozens of training courses taken, one year of migration in another country and 10 years of struggle. People like me are not considered and we become beneficiaries of professional internships, unpaid internships and endless employment measures. When we look for a “real” job, we hear things like: “We are looking for someone with more experience!”, “You are over qualified” or even “You have too much experience for your age!

Maria, 25,
From Coimbra, Portugal

The problem

The economic and social policies being pushed by most European politicians see employment as the best way to eradicate poverty.

However, millions of low, medium and highly qualified people in Europe find it difficult to obtain a decent job and bring home a decent income.

They may face discrimination because of their age, nationality, ethnicity, sex or disability.

Many people are stuck in poorly paid jobs without access to full social protection because of irregular contracts.

Our solutions

Caritas Europa wants resilient European social models that provide for the well-being of all people, led by policies that tackle child and family poverty, while providing social protection and inclusive labour markets.

Inclusive labour markets mean decent jobs for all working age people and official recognition of people’s contributions to society through unpaid caring or volunteering.

Job stability and income security are essential to allow everyone, from young people entering the labour market for the first time to parents and those at the end of their careers, to successfully deal with the challenges life may throw at them.

Job stability and income security are essential for parents and carers wanting to offer a safe environment and a warm home for their children.

Caritas Europa is therefore calling on EU institutions and all European governments to implement policies that will create inclusive labour markets and reduce poverty and inequalities.

These should:

  • Protect the rights of all workers and fight exploitation, for example of undocumented workers;
  • Establish an adequate minimum wage;
  • Ensure wage equality between women and men – equal pay for equal work;
  • Improve job security by limiting the use of short-term contracts;
  • Introduce measures to support the transition between education and the labour market (youth employment); for example, by promoting connections between school curricula and required labour market skills;
  • Provide, in particular for newly arrived migrants and others far from the labour market, employment counselling services to facilitate labour market participation and the transition between jobs;
  • Facilitate the recognition of skills and qualifications attained abroad;
  • Reduce long-term unemployment by implementing reinsertion trajectories and skills upgrading;
  • Reduce the gap between the official and effective retirement age by adapting job content to the needs of older workers;
  • Support employment within not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises, making use of their job creation potential;
  • End discriminatory practices that pose barriers to labour market integration and upward career mobility;
  • Enable, support and recognise the value of family care work by:
    – ensuring the legal right to maternity leave of at least 15 weeks as well as parental leave of at least six months;
    – allowing a number of days per year of special leave for care work in the family (for children, elderly, the ill);
    – ensuring a minimum income during longer periods of leave for care work;
    – considering the time spent on care work as eligible for the calculation of pension rights.