Youth At Work
Stuart Tannock Temple University Press, 2001 Library of Congress HD6276.N68T363 2001 | Dewey Decimal 331.381647950973
Young people often work in some of the lowest-paying, lowest-status jobs there are -- in dead end jobs or "McJobs" in retail, food, and entertainment service sectors. They have lower wages, fewer benefits, less job security, and are less likely to be unionized than any other age group in the workforce. Employers of young workers, by contrast, frequently rank among the world's most powerful corporations. Despite their importance to the service economy, young workers are often ignored or stereotyped by researchers, policymakers, and trade unions.
This interview-based study of 95 young unionized fast-food and grocery workers in two cities in the U.S. and Canada presents a detailed account of their experiences in their workplaces and in their unions. These young workers vividly describe their daily tasks of frying, serving, bagging, stocking, and cleaning up, and the pressures from management and customers that surround these tasks. Management control tactics they encounter include video surveillance, drug testing, and monitoring of worker service scripts by mystery shoppers. The workers also document the hazards -- muscle injuries, burns, and robberies -- and the responsibilities of their jobs, including the emotional labor of customer relations.
The book suggests that young service sector workers have a distinct workforce identity as "stopgap workers." Society, employers, and even some unions often dismiss young workers as not being "real" workers, since these youths are seen as being in transition between school and "adult" career forms of employment. The collective activism of unions may offer hope not just for improving service sector work, but for educating young workers and providing them with a voice in shaping their own temporary work conditions.
The economic status of young people has declined significantly over the past two decades, despite a variety of programs designed to aid new workers in the transition from the classroom to the job market. This ongoing problem has proved difficult to explain. Drawing on comparative data from Canada, Germany, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, these papers go beyond examining only employment and wages and explore the effects of family background, education and training, social expectations, and crime on youth employment.
This volume brings together key studies, providing detailed analyses of the difficult economic situation plaguing young workers. Why have demographic changes and additional schooling failed to resolve youth unemployment? How effective have those economic policies been which aimed to improve the labor skills and marketability of young people? And how have youths themselves responded to the deteriorating job market confronting them? These questions form the empirical and organizational bases upon which these studies are founded.
This volume brings together a massive body of much-needed research information on a problem of crucial importance to labor economists, policy makers, and society in general: unemployment among the young. The thirteen studies detail the ambiguity and inadequacy of our present standard statistics as applied to youth employment, point out the error in many commonly accepted views, and show that many critically important aspects of this problem are not adequately understood. These studies also supply a significant amount of raw data, furnish a platform for further research and theoretical work in labor economics, and direct attention to promising avenues for future programs.