Young workers and sustainable work life

Special emphasis on Nordic conditions

image of Young workers and sustainable work life

A sustainable working life that prevents work-related health problems and facilitate inclusion of young workers is vital to ensure the health, safety and work participation among young workers in the Nordic countries. This report provides Nordic statistics, scientific knowledge and discussions on how to achieve a sustainable work life for young workers in the Nordic countries. Under the Swedish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2013, the focus was on youth and young workers' working conditions. As part of this focus, the Nordic Council of Ministers commissioned this report. The report shows that an inter-disciplinary and comprehensive approach is essential to ensure a sustainable work life among young workers. Six characteristics are emphasized as important: the characteristics of the worker, the workplace, the work task, the employment, the education and the youth.




There is some ambiguity related to the definition of what constitutes a “young worker”. The term may include very different groups, depending on what one regards as being “young”, and how one defines “work”. The definition often depends on the context: EU legislation directed at protecting young workers defines a “young worker” as under the age of 18, while some national registers and statistics categorize young workers in the 16–24-year age group. Due to the fact that young people are delaying their transitions into the labor market, often through the extension of higher education, results in EU policy initiatives aimed at young workers tend to be even broader, covering “young workers” up to the age of 30. In Eurostat, statistics are presented with workers aged 15–34, as the “young” group. The term “young worker” is also very different in terms of their working arrangements, as some are students working part time, others are full time workers and some are in apprenticeships, while others have more informal or unregistered work such as volunteer work or working for family or friends. In the context of this report, a decision was made to include all categories of paid work, including apprentices, temporary work and part time work. In the literature review it was decided to have a broad view of young workers’ age, which subsequently included young people ranging in age from 15–29.


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