human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Social sector is vital for decent job creation

On the World Day for Decent Work

Today, on the World Day for Decent Work, Caritas Europa reminds policy-makers, social actors and private and public employers that greater effort is needed to ensure decent working conditions and adequate wages for all. This is indispensable to enable workers and their families to lead a life where their dignity is upheld[1]. Caritas Europa calls on EU institutions and European governments to implement policies that create inclusive labour markets and reduce poverty and inequalities (look at Caritas’ possible solutions and recommendations here).

Work has the potential to enhance human dignity. Decent work allows for the realisation of many rights (such as the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food, clothing and housing, the right to social security and the right to education) and contributes to a person’s ability to participate fully in, and contribute to, society. However, the labour market still entails a number of poverty risks, especially when salaries are insufficient to meet living costs or in cases of unemployment.

Employment creation, decent work and labour rights are the cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which UN membership countries committed to four years ago. SDG 8 calls for the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work. Employment is both a stand-alone goal and is linked with many of the other sustainable development goals, such as ending poverty and hunger, achieving equality between men and women, and reducing inequalities. Without investments and progress on employment-related goals, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve Agenda 2030 and leave no one behind.

Care and social sectors are key

This year, Caritas Europa joins the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and others in calling for the EU and its Member States to increase investments in the care and social sector in order to: generate economic growth, tackle growing demographic challenges, and help overcome discrimination between men and women by supporting women’s participation in the economy.

Increasing investment in the care and social sector is crucial for creating more quality jobs. As Europe’s population grows older, the demand for social services increases. Today, this sector has become one of Europe’s biggest job creators with nearly two million new jobs in the last ten years[2]. Adequate income, sustainable employment, and good services remain mandatory objectives for any economic system oriented towards justice and the common good. Hence, investing in the care and social sector is vital for creating relevant jobs to respond to societal challenges and to provide needed quality services and job training tohelp people move out of unemployment.

Challenges ahead

The care and social services sector currently faces challenges, such as pressure on costs which have an impact on working conditions, and a shortage of skilled workers. Europe needs a higher number of skilled workers in this sector to respond to its demographic changes and effectively deliver quality services. There is also a need to train and re-train staff, in view of the shift to community-based services that allow people in need to receive care in their own home or community rather than in institutions or other isolated settings[3].

Investing in this sector provides a win-win opportunity to meet increasing demand for social services and unlock millions of new jobs. For these reasons, investing in the social and care sector is a European imperative.


1. Caritas considers “Inclusive labour markets” as one of the three pillars for the Caritas Social Model. See more on “Social Justice and Equality in Europe is possible

2. These include a wide range of jobs, starting from health care provided by trained medical professionals in hospitals and other facilities, over residential care activities that still involve a degree of health care activities to social work activities without any involvement of health care professionals (such as services for employment orientation, housing, migrants’ inclusion, etc.).

3. As highlighted also in the research commissioned by Caritas Europe and other European non-for-profit Social Service providers (Social Services Europe) on “Recruitment and Retention in social services: Unlocking the Sector’s Job Creation Potential”.