Statistical sources and analysis

1.5 Job-to job mobility

The EUROSTAT database on Science and Technology includes job-to-job mobility of human resources in science and technology (HRST). This indicator shows the percentage of persons that have changed jobs over a one year period15. The following graphs show the trends for this variable from 1999 to 2005 for the Euro area, EU25, EU15, Spain and Italy, women and men separately. A third graph shows the data for Ireland only covering the period 1995 to 1997 (only data available at the close of this report).

The first thing to note is the increasing mobility in Science and Technology jobs for women in Ireland and Spain as opposed to the declining mobility overall in the EU (including Italy) since 2004. Non the less, during the 1999-2005 period the trend for Italy has also been positive, but lower than in the other two study countries. A second striking feature is that the percentage of women moving from one science and technology job to another in Spain and Ireland is higher than that of men. While in both Spain and Ireland, based on the data shown, menís mobility seems to be stabilising while womenís mobility continues to grow, in Italy womenís mobility seems to be decreasing while menís mobility is increasing. Finally, it is interesting to note that Ireland has the highest mobility rates out of all the study countries and much higher than the EU averages, at least for the period shown.

While the previous graphs show some positive trends for women in Ireland and Spain, it is very important to understand what drives the change in jobs in order to draw lessons that can be applied more generally. The following graph indicates the percentage of fixed term contracts16 in the study countries and can help to clarify important differences between them. In the case of Ireland, with the highest and growing rates of mobility for women, the proportion of fixed term employment is one of the lowest in the whole of the EU but women have a slightly higher rate of fixed term contracts than men. On the other hand, with also very high rates of job-to-job mobility for women, we observe that Spain has the highest rate of fixed term employment in the whole of the EU and that it is higher for women than for men (almost 5 percentage points higher). This means that, in principle, there are two very different factors driving the high mobility rates and that they result in very different outcomes in terms of conditions and pay as well as the impact on the overall economic performance can be found in the two countries. While in Ireland the high job-to job mobility rate is likely to have a positive impact (and mobility is voluntary), in the case of Spain the high turnover and lack of job security can lead to a negative impact, especially in terms of productivity. However, it would also be important to know if mobility in Ireland has a gender component, in that changes between jobs could be due not to pay and conditions improvements and voluntary causes, but to causes linked to unpaid care or other involuntary factors including bounded mobility17.

Source: Employment un Europe 2006, statistical annex, key employment indicators

In the case of Italy, women also have a higher fixed-term contract proportion then men, with a similar difference with Spain of 5 percentage points. Here another explanation or model might be behind the lower mobility rates. While fixed term contract affect other sectors, the IT sector might be less affected by this type of contracts. Also, as human resources become scarcer (employers might have retention policies in place) or there is less willingness by workers to move, the mobility rates might be affected.

These figures also need to be contrasted with more general figures on mobility. The Eurobarometer on job mobility in the career of European workers18 indicates that the average age of entry to the labour market is at 19 years of age for Europeans. In the EU, the average percentage of people (over 35) that have never worked is still a significant 8%. The values of those who have never worked varies noticeably with gender, while only 1% of all men older than 35 have never worked, this figure grows to 13% for women. This figure can be linked to the unpaid care work segment.

In relation to the levels of job mobility, the average number of jobs that people in the EU have held is of 3,9 and the average job duration in Europe is calculated to be 8,3 years. However, almost 25% of European workers over 35 have been classified as never mobile, that is they have never changed employer in their career.

Regarding the most recent change in employer, around 8% of EU workers changed employer in the past year, while 32% changed employer at least once in the past 5 years and 50% in the last 10 years.

Table 2 Different indicators comparing job mobility data available for EU25, Ireland, Spain and, Italy, 2005
EU25 Ireland Spain Italy
Percentage of people who have never worked 4% 17% 21%
Percentage of people who have never changed employer 23% 29% 29% 35%
Average job duration 8.3 8.3 8.4 9.2
Percentage of people mobile in the last year 12% 10% 5%
Percentage of people mobile in the last 5 years 38% 35% 24%
Note: Except for the average job duration, all values for people over 35 years
Source; 2005 Eurobarometer survey on geographical and labour market mobility

According to the survey, Italy and Spain are at the top of the EU rankings in the percentage of people that have never worked (1st and 3rd respectively), while values for Ireland are much closer to EU25 averages. All three countries are above EU25 average in the percentage of people who have never changed employer, although values for Italy are significantly higher than for Ireland and Spain. In relation to the average duration, Ireland and Spain rank at EU25 average, while Italy scores almost one percentage point higher. Data for recent job mobility indicates that Ireland has the highest percentage of mobile workers in recent times, followed closely by Spain while values for recent job mobility in Italy are considerably lower. The overall view from the comparative table suggests that Ireland and Spain have similar levels of mobility in their labour force while Italy has a significantly less mobile work environment.