, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 127-146

Students or lower-skilled workers? ‘Displacement’ at the bottom of the labour market

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Although the labour market participationof students has increased substantially inrecent years, the unemployment rate oflower-skilled workers in Europe has remainedhigh. To what extent, therefore, do studentsoccupy jobs that are also suitable forlower-skilled unemployed workers? Two separateempirical studies were carried out for thepurpose of answering this question, one amongststudents in higher education and one amongstemployers. The conclusion is that studentsoccupy a substantial numbers of jobs that are,in principle, also suitable for thelower-skilled unemployed, especially in sectorssuch as retail trade/shops, hotel and cateringand industry. This suggests that a substantialdisplacement process is taking place. Themotives employers give for recruiting studentsinstead of lower-skilled persons are mostlyrelated to the students' perceivedcommunication skills and flexibility as well astheir ability to learn the job more quickly.