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The University of Southampton

MANG6241 European Labour Markets

Module Overview

This module offers a comprehensive analysis of global and European policy and politics of employment and skill formation. Far from becoming less important in the context of a serious recession, these issues are all the more important because demographic trends are unaltered in the medium term, even with an economic recession: most of the 2050 workforce are already on the planet and most of the 2030 workforce are already in the labour market. In the scramble to shed jobs, we need to reflect on these issues and to think more strategically about how to ensure we shall have the workforce with the competences necessary to meet the challenges of the future. The module is designed to equip participants with a core body of knowledge necessary to understand European diversity with respect to, among other things, labour market regulation, employment relations systems and training regimes. Participants will be introduced to the underpinning theories of labour market regulation as well as the policy tools and instruments that have been developed in support of the Lisbon and Europe 2020 objectives of making Europe the most competitive knowledge based economy based on a high level of skills and social inclusion.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • labour market characteristics: employment and unemployment rates, disaggregated by gender and age; distribution of skills and qualifications;
  • the European Employment Strategy and its underpinning Luxembourg Process and their broader relationship with the Lisbon objectives; differences in training regimes and conceptual approaches to competence, and the implications of these for developing an overarching European Qualifications Framework;
  • European diversity in employment relations regimes, including the institutions of collective bargaining, and the implications of these for European social dialogue and the transposition of European Directives;
  • social dialogue and social partner engagement in the development and implementation of employment and training policy, including strategies for lifelong learning.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate the impact of contextual factors (regimes of labour market regulation, employment relations and training) on policy implementation in the field of employment and training;
  • assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the approaches to developing and implementing employment and training policies in different Member States within the context of the over-arching objectives of the Lisbon Strategy and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • understand the nature of employability itself and use the knowledge and skills developed to operate more effectively as a professional HRM specialist in a transnational context.


The five sessions of the Module are designed to develop understanding and knowledge of the similarities and differences in the labour market characteristics of the European Member States and candidate countries, as well as the reasons for these similarities and differences in terms of the different regimes of labour market regulation, employment relations and training. These five sessions are briefly described below. Globalization and restructuring This part of the module will consider the meaning and impact of globalization and its role in accelerating restructuring: shocks, meta theories and changing paradigms. Implications for the EU and mechanisms of structural adjustment to global competition. Using a generic heuristic restructuring model to analyse drivers of change and predict the impact on employment at sector level; forecasting future skills needs from analysing the impact of restructuring on the level and range of skills needed in key occupations. European labour markets: This session will compare the labour market characteristics of major EU economies and examine progress towards the Lisbon objectives in terms of levels of employment and issues like gender differences in labour market participation. Discussion will focus on explaining diversity in terms of differences in regimes of labour market regulation and their relation with economic structures as well as historical and cultural factors. Strategies for Employment: This session will examine strategies for promoting employment from the OECD Jobs Strategy to ILO initiatives, and EU and APEC policies. EU strategies including the European Employment Strategy and the Luxembourg Process will be analysed in detail, along with the Lisbon objectives. National Action Plans for Employment will be compared across the EU, highlighting good practice in issues like labour market activation and their scope for transfer discussed. Training and development: the role of training in European strategies in support of the Lisbon objectives. Structural differences in training regimes across the EU will be discussed in terms of state regulated versus market-led systems and in terms of workplace versus school-focussed systems. The different conceptions of competence across Europe will be presented along with attempts to reconcile these with a common European Qualifications Framework to promote labour mobility. Employment relations and social dialogue: social dialogue arrangements at the European level and their role in determining employment and training policy. The diversity of social dialogue approaches will be compared across Europe – traditional typology of industrial relations systems and alternative conceptions based on the balance between concertation versus market approaches as tendencies present in all member states at all times, but in different proportions.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

A combination of lectures, individual and group work and seminar discussion. The course will be assessed through an individually agreed, structured assignment, unique to each participant. This could, for example involve the comparison of the employment chapters of National Reform Programme Reports in several member states against a common benchmark, offering a critique of the extent to which existing services match the current needs of the member state given its labour market conditions.

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

European Commission (2017). Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2017. 



In-class formative opportunities


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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