The newly established committee will provide a formal platform for the main EU social partners in the sector, including the Federation of European Social Employers and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), to address the sector’s challenges and explore opportunities across Europe. This marks the culmination of a 15-year endeavor by the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) and other partners to create a representative European employers’ structure for not-for-profit social services.
European Social Dialogue brings together employers and trade unions at both the cross-sectoral and sectoral levels to engage in discussions, consultations, negotiations, and joint actions on matters of interest to the European Union and the sectors involved. It gives recognized social partners a formal role in shaping employment and social policies, going beyond the influence of civil society organizations.
The social services sector plays a vital role in the EU, employing approximately 5% of the total EU workforce, with over 9 million workers. It is also one of the fastest-growing sectors, experiencing a 15.5% increase in the number of employees in the last 10 years, twice the average rate for the entire EU workforce. However, the sector faces significant challenges, such as staff shortages and the growing care needs of an aging population.
In response to these challenges, the Commission’s 2022 EU Care Strategy calls for investments in the social services workforce and the promotion of collective bargaining to enhance the sector’s attractiveness and address staff shortages.
The newly established committee will focus on improving working conditions, job evolution, skills, and attractiveness to ensure accessible, affordable, and high-quality social services. It will also enable social services to build capacity, gain visibility, and contribute more effectively to public social policies.
EPSU General Secretary, Jan Willem Goudriaan, emphasized the importance of social dialogue and collective bargaining in addressing the sector’s long-standing issues of low pay, strenuous working conditions, precarious employment, and gender stereotypes. He called on the Commission to allocate essential resources and provide the necessary political commitment and practical support.
Gregor Tomschizek, President of the Social Employers, stressed the need to address the sector’s growing demand for services while combating staff shortages. He highlighted the importance of advancing training and skills, improving working conditions, and making care jobs more appealing to attract and retain skilled workers.
The establishment of the EU Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Social Services is a crucial milestone in empowering social services workers and achieving positive changes in the sector. The committee’s work program will prioritize areas like working conditions, job evolution, skills, and attractiveness to ensure high-quality social services are accessible and affordable across the EU.