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Europe 2020

Advisory report 2011/07 : Strategic Agenda for Higher Education, Research, and Science Policy
The SER is advocating greater differentiation in higher education in order to serve students and the labour market more effectively. This requires a varied and efficient range of study programmes, including the associate degree (two-year higher professional qualification) and more opportunities to achieve excellence at universities of applied sciences and research universities. By contrast, fragmentation of the supply of courses must be reduced.

Labour, Social Policies

Advisory report 2011/06 : Time and society
An increasing number of people are experiencing considerable time pressure when it comes to combining work with private life. Working hours and the times at which people have to use public services are not well-coordinated. For this reason, a smarter organisation of the time and place of work is required in both the service sector and in companies. In response, the SER is making specific recommendations to educational institutions, childcare centres, healthcare organisations, municipalities and businesses


Advisory report 2011/05 : Making work of job-to-job mobility
It must be made more normal and easier for working people to voluntarily change jobs or switch to another sector. Employers, employees and government must invest in the training and deployability of employees. Changing jobs more often benefits employees and employers and ensures a properly functioning labour market.

Europe 2020, Labour, Local Policies

Advisory report 2011/02: Own-account workers and working conditions (abstract)
In this advisory report, the Social and Economic Council (SER) addresses the question of how to ensure that “self-employed persons with no staff” (i.e. own-account workers) can operate under the same working conditions as employed persons. The Council concludes that more provisions of the health and safety regulations should apply to them. The Council believes that the “target-setting provisions” – i.e. those setting specific standard limits and/or process standards – should apply in full to anybody who works, including therefore own-account workers. The effect is that own-account workers will need to observe the relevant provisions and take the necessary measures. This system will afford the same level of protection to own-account workers as to employed persons, and will also prevent competition regarding working conditions.

Europe 2020, Labour

Supports and Services for Unemployed Jobseekers: Challenges and Opportunities in a Time of Recession (123)
Ireland’s labour market will take years to recover from the massive contraction that has occurred in the economy. Males, young people, low skilled workers and nationals from the recent EU Accession States have borne the brunt of the collapse in employment. Compared to previous recessions, more among the unemployed today have good levels of education, skills, and extensive work experience. The share of total unemployment that is long term is relentlessly rising. Significant groups do not appear on the Live Register, notably the ‘unemployed self-employed’ and people who have exhausted their entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit and whose spouses/partners continue to earn. These aspects require changes in approach if supports and services are to reach unemployed people and prevent them being scarred for the rest of their lives by their current unemployment.

Local Policies, Social Policies

Quality and Standards in Human Services in Ireland: Overview of Concepts and Practice (124)
High quality public services demand much more than minimum compliance with rules and regulations. For human services, such as eldercare and disability, we need to use regulation and standards that focus on performance and outcomes.


Recommendation to the sectors and regional consultative councils on the transposition of the European framework agreement on inclusive labour markets – Recommendation No. 22

Agricultural Policies, Climate Change, Economy and Finance, Industrial Changes

Advisory report 2010/05 : More chemistry between green and growth: The opportunities and dilemmas of a bio-based economy
A bio-based economy is one in which enterprises manufacture non-food products from biomass. Such products include fuel for the transport industry, chemicals, materials, and energy. Biomass is the biological material of living or recently living organisms, either animal or vegetable. With technology becoming more sophisticated, it is growing easier to turn plants, trees, crops, and residual animal waste into biomass. Waste and waste streams are increasingly being used as input in production processes, thereby gaining an economic value of their own. They are giving rise to new, sustainable products with considerable added value that replace products based on non-renewable materials. New bio-based products may offer the Netherlands new economic opportunities. The Dutch can already boast a number of distinct advantages in that respect, thanks to the sophistication of their industrial sector, agro-industry, chemicals and energy industries, and transport and logistics sector – all key sectors in a bio-based economy. However, the growing world population and increasing level of prosperity worldwide, and the environmental and climate problems associated with such growth, are adding to the complexity of policy-making aimed at developing a bio-based economy. The shift from fossil-based to bio-based materials must be part of a comprehensive policy aimed at achieving a sustainable economy.

Economy and Finance, Labour

Advisory report 2010/04 : Own-account workers in the Netherlands
The increase in the number of own-account workers in the Netherlands has led to discussion within a variety of policy fields. One important point is that own-account workers are basically subject to the same work risks – for example occupational incapacity and unemployment – as employees, despite enjoying less protection within the social security system. In its advisory report to the Dutch Government (Zzp’ers in beeld), the Social and Economic Council favours an integrated approach to own-account workers. The Council surveys the available data on own-account workers and investigates their significance for Dutch society and the Dutch economy. The central issue is whether the current system of labour relations, taxation, and social security requires revision in order to render it future-proof.

Economy and Finance

Advisory report 2010/03 : Making sustainable growth work
The Social and Economic Council s view of sustainable developmentSustainable development can be realised if the broad concept of prosperity is applied. This concept impliesmore than material progress (higher standard of living, more purchasing power): it also encompasses socialprogress (well-being, social cohesion) and a good quality environment (spatial and environmental). What isinvolved is not only achieving all three aspects here and now but also elsewhere (internationally, with aparticular focus on developing countries) and later (for future generations).Sustainable development has many different dimensions to it; it is also a long-term process, and that meansit is fraught with uncertainties. It is unlikely that we will be able to meet the various criteria of sustainabilityall at once. We will have to choose, for example between the degree of environmental damage consideredacceptable and the price that society is prepared to pay for this (ecological versus economic sustainability). Achoice of this kind requires a political assessment. At its core, then, sustainable development is a sociallydriven process that involves searching, learning, weighing up the pros and cons, and commitment.