Care work in Europe: Current understandings and future directions Peter Moss Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education University of London
EC funded (Framework 5) 2001 - 2005 6 Partners: Denmark, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and UK Main objective: To contribute to the development of good quality employment in care work in services that are responsive to needs of changing societies The Study
What is ‘care work’? Analyse and compare understandings of care work across different types of care work and different countries How is ‘ care work’ structured? Identify different approaches to and models of care work Why is ‘care work’ women’s work? Examine the causes and consequences of the gendered nature of the care workforce What directions to take? Identify conditions necessary for the development of good quality employment in care work Specific aims
As a potential source of good quality employment As a condition for reconciliation of work and family life increased employment & gender equality As the main determinant of quality of care servicesgood quality of life for Europe’s citizens Why is care work important?
Changing values : choice, flexibility, decentralisation, privatisation, rights, participation Changing images : e.g. the child as active subject and citizen Changing demands: increasing demand for paid care work, increasing recognition that care work is complex and demanding Changing context
Changing supply: care work – unpaid and paid – dependent on women working in poor conditions and subsidizing costs – but this ‘traditional’ supply is decreasing. The problematique – in this changing context, is the current system sustainable? desirable? Changing context
Mapping the care workforce; surveying use and demand for care services; reviewing literature on quality, job satisfaction and gender issues Three cross-national case studies of work: with young children (HU, DK, SP); with older people (SW, ENG, SP + HU); with adults with severe disabilities (DK, NE, SW) Development ofvideo-based method for cross-national study of practice in care work (SOPHOS) 3. Innovative practice (36 examples); dissemination All reports at www.ioe.ac.uk/tcru/carework.htm Three stage study
Childcare and out-of-school services Child and youth residential and foster care Care for adults with disabilities, including eldercare + paid ‘front line’ care work – but recognise importance of relationship with unpaid work Focus of study
Cross national Cross-sectoral – from 0 to 100 Differences and common ground Policy and practice, structures and understandings Multi-method (secondary analysis of LFS→video-based study of practice→in-depth interviews) Border crossing
‘Care work’ is a problematic term and concept, and can be an integral part of a wider field (such as education or pedagogy). Where it exists as a separate field, it is often weakly conceptualised. Main findingsWhat is care work?
Concept often unclear, e.g. many have difficulty defining ‘social care’? Border between ‘care’ and other fields is blurring, e.g. Children: (child)care into education, e.g. Spain moving from ‘childcare’ to ‘education for young children’ (guarderia> escuela infantile) Elderly people: (elder)care into health and housing Main findingsWhat is ‘care work’?
‘Care’ not understood as a distinct field of policy, practice or employment, e.g. Denmark, care as inseparable part of pedagogy, holistic approach to working with people…not ‘care work’ but ‘pedagogical work’, not ‘care workers’ but ‘pedagogues’ ‘pedagogy’: important theory, practice and profession in Continental Europe…but almost unknown in English-language world Main findingsWhat is ‘care work?’
The workforce is three tiered and highly gendered, though with considerable cross-sectoral and cross-national differences in size and quality of employment Main findingsHow is care work structured?
High (tertiary level education) Mainly work with children and young people; only small groups (except Denmark) work with adults. Include teachers and (social) pedagogues Medium (upper secondary education) Mainly work with adults (e.g. auxiliary nurse in Sweden), but also ‘childcare’ workers (e.g.nursery workers in Hungary, UK) Low (secondary education) Home-based workers; some assistants. Include family day care, home carers, personal assistants Three tier workforce
Highly gendered (% women highest with children and elderly) Mostly 25-44 (like total workforce) - many have own care responsibilities but no information Often (not always) low paid Mostly specialist Career prospects usually limited – vertically and horizontally Profile of the workforce
Highest level in work with children…lowest in work with elderly people Highest level overall in Denmark, then Sweden…UK at lower end Largest workforce in Denmark (10%) and Sweden (9%); Netherlands and UK (7-9%, but high % part time); Hungary and Spain (<5%, but low % part time) Cross-sectoral/nationaldifferences
High level of education Less gendered – 25% male in some services Better pay (and other conditions) Generalist - work with people from 0 to 100; main worker with children, young people and younger adults Broad career prospects - vertical and horizontal Danish pedagogue
NOT poor pay BUT understandings of the work as essentially female, replicating the gendered nature of care work in the home AND gendering of the workforce is reproduced in training and employment practices (which presume female students and workers). Main findingsWhy is ‘care work’ women’s work?
There are strong commonalities in work across different sectors: whether with children, young people or adults, it is becoming more complex and demanding and requires many common competencies. Main findingsCommon requirements and competencies
Fulfilling fundamental physiological needs and needs for protection Supporting development and/or autonomy Relating: communication, listening, empathy Supporting the integrative relationship between the individual, family and friends and wider communities Networking (with family, community) and teamworking (with other workers and services) Working with diversity. Renewing knowledge Commonalities in care work
Communicative (many languages, listen) Reflective and analytic; make contextualised judgements Understanding and valuing learning as lifelong process Personal competencies/experiences + the ability to connect the personal & professional Working between theory and practice Working with complexity, diversity, change Teamworking and networking Musical and aesthetic Common competencies
Much care work has features of poor quality employment (e.g.pay and other employment conditions, levels of education). But reported job satisfaction is high, and much care work has features of good quality employment (e.g. job autonomy). The social status of the work, however, is perceived by workers to be low. Main findingsQuality of employment
Pay, benefits and employment Education, initial and ongoing (Lifelong learning) Supportive environment Health and safety Career prospects Decision latitude (autonomy) Meaningful employment Social recognition and status Equal opportunities and non-discrimination Work and family reconciliation Good qualityemployment
There is evidence of actual or envisaged shortages of care workers, which may reflect an emergent crisis of care. Main findingsRecruitment and retention
Strong valuation of all those who are ‘cared for’ (older people as well as children) Well organised workforce with strong and articulate public voice Making the work more visible Development of ‘learning organisations’ What directions to take?Conditions for good quality employment
Recognition that good quality employment needed for sustainability and quality Strong funding base (e.g. Nordic welfare state – but what other possibilities?)…government requiring high standards Reconceptualisation of ‘care work’ – ‘care work’ is low quality work
Care work requires: Reflective professional practitioner with tertiary level education working with… …“other worker” with upper secondary education What directions to take?Move to two tier workforce
Diversifying the workforce – especially gender and ethnicity – is : necessary desirable What directions to take?Diversifying the workforce
What proportion “professional” and “assistant”? Does the professional supervise and manage or also do ‘front line’ work? Who blows noses? A generalist workforce educated to work across all/most of the life course or more specialist groups? Nursery worker or lifecourse worker? Concluding questions
Is a market/managerial orientation compatible with a a reflective professional adopting a holistic approach and exercising contextualised judgement? What are the implications for care work of ‘cash-for-care’ policies? Concluding questions
Is there an emerging ‘crisis of care’ as women’s socio-economic position changes fundamentally? What solutions? Recruit non-employed (welfare to work) Recruit under-represented groups (e.g. men) Recruit migrant labour Revalue work, improve quality Concluding questions
“Wherever the present standard for any category of job is ‘low qualified women around the age of 30’, there will unmistakably be a strong need to improve the quality of job so it will be acceptable to people with higher educational attainments. And if no improved professionalisation of the job is achieved then it will rapidly end up in a severe labour supply shortage” (Géry Coomans, 2002)
How to pay for good quality employment? Per capita GDP: DK= $31600; Ire=$35800; Tax as % GDP: DK = 49%; Ire=28% Is ‘care’ a distinct field of policy, practice and employment? Or is ‘care’ part of other fields, e.g. education, pedagogy, health? Does ‘care work’ have an independent future? Concluding questions