Temporary Work Agencies’ contribution to transitions in the EU labour market : the example of vocational training

Presentation of the project


As the two recognized social partners for the European sectoral social dialogue on temporary agency work, Eurociett and UNI-Europa initiated a joint project on the December 15 2007, entitled “Temporary work agencies’ contribution to transitions in the EU labour market : the example of vocational training”. The main objective of this initiative was to assess the role temporary work agencies may play in facilitating transitions in the EU labour market, with a special focus on promoting vocational training opportunities provided to temporary agency workers.


The project was a part of the Eurociett/UNI-Europa joint work programme for 2007-2008 that stated “the European social partners will focus on facilitating access to vocational training of temporary agency workers. They will identify the state of play in the EU, assess best practices, and work together in order to find a way to promote them.


Results of the study 


This study is the first to provide an EU-wide overview of the training provisions available for temporary agency workers. It reveals that several EU countries have developed different systems to facilitate access to training for temporary agency workers. Based on this study, certain success factors and various challenges can be highlighted.


Given the specificities of the temporary agency work sector, it appears that the general system of vocational training needs to be better adapted to match the training needs of temporary work agencies, user firms and temporary agency workers. The training systems established in countries having developed a specific framework for temporary agency workers - namely Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain - share certain common elements :

  • Strong role of social dialogue and collective bargaining : The presence of strong social dialogue in the temporary agency work sector is a trait shared by these best practice examples. Both employees’ and employers’ organisations recognize the need for training and, given their proximity to the local labour market, they are the best equipped to adapt the general/national training systems in place to the specificities of the sector.
  • Compulsory contributions of agencies : All best practice countries have introduced compulsory training contributions, either by law or collective labour agreement, to be paid by the temporary work agencies, in order to guarantee financial investments in vocational training.
  • Development of bi-partite training funds : In 6 EU Member States - 7 since January 1 2009 with the establishment of a bi-partite training fund in Luxembourg - national employers’ federations together with trade unions have set up bi-partite bodies to facilitate access to training for temporary agency workers. The role of these training funds is not limited to providing financial support, but, in most countries, they also support temporary work agencies in the development of training policies, selection of training providers, collaborations with other sectors, or provide support to obtain European Social Funds.

A second challenge for the temporary agency work sector is that of collaborations with other stakeholders, whether with other sectors or with the Public Employment Services. In several countries, cooperation between the public and the private already exists, and as such could be extended to other countries. On the other hand, collaborations with other sectors seem generally more difficult to establish.


A third challenge is to ensure that the temporary agency work sector has full access to EU-funded and or national programmes aimed at promoting vocational training for workers. In some cases, this implies the necessity to adapt funds already available to the specificities of the triangular work relationship.


Finally, given the growing importance of vocational training and life-long learning, it will be necessary to monitor future developments in training programmes specifically devoted to temporary agency workers. This does not only require reliable statistics on output indicators [such as number of hours trained, number of workers trained], but also comparable information regarding the long-term impact of these training programmes [i.e. their effect on the ulterior employability of the trainees].