Older people and foreigners struggle to find work

The number of job seekers is on the rise.

Around 263,700 people had no work last month, the Labour Market Service (AMS) announced. This is an increase of 4.4 per cent compared to the same month of 2011. The organisation underlined that especially physically and mentally handicapped people, older workers and immigrants struggled to find a job.

The number of unemployed foreigners living in Austria rose by 11.8 per cent from March 2011 to the same month of this year. Analysis also shows that more than 40 per cent of immigrants and Austrians with a migratory background had been out of work at least once in the past 10 years.

Around 1.5 million people in Austria have a migratory background, meaning that they hold no Austrian passports or come from families who settled in the country from abroad. Almost 12 per cent of them are currently unemployed. Germans are the largest group of foreigners in Austria. They have a lower than average jobless rate and their spending power is higher than the one of an average Austrian while people from Yugoslavia and Turkey struggle more in both concerns.

Around 8.5 per cent more Austrians and foreigners older than 50 were unemployed last month than in the same period of the previous year. Labour Chamber (AK) President Herbert Tumpel has appealed to the government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and People’s Party (ÖVP) to start initiatives to lower the share.

Federal Trade Union (ÖGB) President Erich Foglar suggested to increase the pressure on companies. Foglar said there should be regulations which make it mandatory to employ a certain number of older employees. Foglar said the law must be changed since most firms would ignore incentives, promotion campaigns and recommendations in this regard.

The Upper Austrian department of the SPÖ is in support of such a measure as well. The faction announced that it was “not acceptable” that enterprises of various sectors of the economy kept refusing to engage older men and women looking for work. Tumpel and several labour unionists also criticised that employees and workers appeared to be under high risk of getting sacked after turning 50.

The western regions of Vorarlberg (minus 1.6 per cent) and Tyrol (minus 4.5 per cent) are the only provinces which managed to lower the overall jobless rate last month. Experts link this development to strong snowfall. Wintery conditions helped skiing regions to keep operating longer than in some of the previous years.

These developments meant that many seasonal workers were engaged for some extra weeks. The tourism industry is nevertheless under fire for hiring fewer trainees than ever before. Many hotel managers and restaurant bosses have been urged by union leaders recently to improve seasonal staff’s working conditions. They have also been asked to raise the attractiveness of a job in the industry to encourage more young people to try themselves at internships in hotels and eateries.