LAB Meeting Estonia 2015


The LAB meeting took place in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to reach the maximum number of participants. The meeting with Estonian stakeholder engaged in topics of youth labour markets took place in the 18th months of the STYLE project. The idea was to have the seminar at a time when there are ready some preliminary research results for presentation that could insure higher interest in participating in the event and initiate discussions.

In total 10 different organisations were represented by 22 participants, sometimes at the highest level possible (e.g. the president of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation and the chairman of board of the Estonian Employees’ Unions’ Confederation). In addition to the latter, participants from a few other organisations, like think-tank PRAXIS expressed their interest to be informed about the project research work. The large number of participants from University of Tallinn is due to their similar Horizon 2020 project “Social Exclusion of Youth in Europe: Cumulative Disadvantage, Coping Strategies, Effective Policies and Transfer – EXCEPT”.

At the beginning of the seminar Jaan Masso shortly introduced the STYLE project, in particular its goals, structure, research objectives, research packages, some results and outputs. Thereafter Prof. Raul Eamets introduced the results of the WP 10 “Flexicurity”. Senior Research Fellow Jaan Masso introduced the research work in the two first tasks of the WP7 Self-employment. In the final presentation PhD student Maryna Tverdostup introduced the research work undertaken in task 1 of the WP6 “Mobility”. The total meeting lasted for about 3 hours, as planned.

Questions and comments from the audience were taken both during and after the presentations. The slides of the presentations were sent to the participants after the seminar together with links to the research reports. Much of this research studied issues across European countries, while naturally participants‘ interventions were more connected to the situation of youth in the Estonian labour market. Participants were also interested in how the project research results will feed into the policy, which policy agencies would benefit from the research and it was advised another meeting at the later stage of the project might be useful.

Main issues of debate


Raul Eamets described the main results of the flexicurity mapping exercises. He emphasised that in the flexibility-security dimension in most European countries during the last 10 years have been relatively limited, yet Estonia stands out in Europe as one of a very few countries where flexibility has increased. Raul Eamets in his presentation especially emphasised the benefit of STYLE for policy learning by suggesting the readers to introduce themselves to the country reports prepared under WP3. Namely, there are many targeted policies in other countries whose introduction to the Estonian context could be considered given the Estonian labour policy tool-box being somewhat limited to a small number of measures. This could be explained e.g. by the resource constraints especially before the EU structural funds opened.

One feedback from the participants was that given that youth unemployment is not particularly high in Estonia, there are major changes actually needed in Estonian labour market. Raul Eamets mentioned that the NEET rates are not low in Estonia and the youth unemployment may again easily increase in case of new crises. The participants seemed to agree that the increased variability of policy tools may help to avoid negative developments in the future in Estonia. The topic of appropriate indicators, like unemployment rates vs unemployment ratios, was discussed also, and that the indicators look rather different especially for the teenagers, the age group 15-19.

Participants were interested in the work done in the project regarding several educational issues in Estonia. Among the latter, the following were mentioned: the drop-outs from primary school, a significant proportion of vocational education graduates not finding job within 3 years and the problem of the Estonian economy being also the match between education offered and the economic structure and how much the research would map the situation of Estonia in this respect. The representative of Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund mentioned also that not all young people approach Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund that should be considered also an issue.


Maryna Tverdostup introduced the research results in the analysis of the labour market performance of young Estonian return migrants. The return migration is in Estonian labour market widespread and increasing phenomena, among other things also due the problems faced by the economic problems of Finland that has been the most important outward migration destination in Estonia. The presentation gave an overview about who are the young Estonian return migrants and their wages and occupations after the return. The key research result is that young people do not benefit from foreign work experience in terms of career, but they benefit from it in terms of higher wages. Young people may have benefitted more from foreign work experience than adults, yet the results depend on whether we talk about poorly employment nature of migration or wider groups of young return migrants that includes also those studying abroad. The discussion following the presentation summarised the results, return migration have contributed to the wage increases in Estonia, but not particularly via the knowledge and skills accumulation abroad, but rather by increasing the individuals awareness about their possibilities in Estonian and foreign labour markets. The participants also mentioned that outward migration has helped to lower unemployment rates in Estonian labour market. Once again the educational aspect seemed to be of interest for the participants – the results indicated that the more educated young are more frequently represented among the returnees.


Jaan Masso introduced the research results in the mapping of self-employment policies in the 6 countries participating in the WP 7 and the mapping of self-employment patterns across European countries. The following issues were covered in the presentation: the entrepreneurship policies in the 6 countries participating in WP6, patterns of youth self-employment and entrepreneurship across European countries, economic performance of youth start-ups, quality of work issues. Jaan Masso emphasised that the picture across European countries looks rather different regarding the rates of youth self-employment and entrepreneurship. The participants asked about the different picture on Estonia given by different datasets, like labour force survey and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor data.

Estonia stands out as one country where self-employment rates are relatively low, yet especially the youth entrepreneurial intentions are very high. The participants asked about the survival of start-ups managed by young people. Jaan Masso mentioned that though one cannot see in the data their lower survival rates for young people yet lower high survival rates could be also indicative of entry barriers whereby only the most able individuals enter entrepreneurship.

A topic of special interest for stakeholders was also entrepreneurship education where they were informed about the University of Tartu ongoing research in this area also outside of the STYLE project. Though the necessity for entrepreneurship education has been a lot been mentioned, it was also discussed whether that could actually increase the rate of entrepreneurship but rather improve the status of entrepreneurs in society. Another problem seen by one participants is the lock-in effect increasing with age that people are not able or willing to take up entrepreneurship due to the inability to take risks and forgive stable source of wage income.

Main lessons from meeting

  1. Participants were informed about STYLE project and they have now possibility to access STYLE reports and working papers via web site. Interest to learn more about our research was very high.
  2. Planning our labour policy activities, it is useful for all labour market parties to learn other’s countries experience. STYLE will give excellent possibility for that.
  3. Potential co-operation with other researchers who have similar research objectives. It was agreed that we will continue this seminar, when we have next round results to present. We agreed that we could do this together with EXCEPT project.
  4. Comments and questions will help better target our research objectives in future research and improve STYLE outcomes.



University of Tartu representative office in Tallinn, Teatri väljak 3, Tallinn, Estonia

17 August 2015

Date: 27.08.2015


University of Tartu (hosting partner) (Tartu Ülikool)

Raul Eamets, Jaan Masso, Maryna Tverdostup

Estonian Unemployment Insurance Board (Töötukassa)

Berit Vogt

Estonian Employees’ Unions’ Confederation (Teenistujate Ametiliitude Keskorganisatsioon TALO)

Ago Tuuling

University of Tallinn, Institute of International and Social Studies (Tallinna Ülikool, Rahvusvaheliste ja Sotsiaaluuringute Instituut)

Kadri Täht, Marge Unt, Jelena Helemäe, Epp Reiska

State Audit Office (Riigikontroll)

Urmet Lee, Kaia Philips, Raina Loom

The Estonian Qualification Authority (Kutsekoda)

Tiia Randma

Estonian Trade Union Confederation (Eesti Ametiühingute Keskliit)

Peep Peterson

Tallinn University of Technology (Tallinna Tehnikaülikool)

Kaja Lutsoja

Estonian Youth Work Centre (Eesti Noorsootöö Keskus)

Külli Kruuspak, Merit Künnapuu

Ministry of Social Affairs (Sotsiaalministeerium)

Heleen Jääger, Siiri Otsmann

Junior Achievement Estonia

Kersti Loor