The labour market is not a place you can see or visit in the way you can a vegetable market or a flea market. It is a “virtual” place, i.e. an invisible place existing only as something imagined, where the demand for labour and the supply of labour come together. If, for example, a particular sector of industry, such as the construction industry, needs workers and engineers, companies try to find the right people using the job centre or by advertising. Negotiations about wages and salaries and the conditions of work are also held on the labour market. So that each employee does not need to negotiate his or herself about pay, working hours or the amount of holidays, many workers have joined to form unions that represent their interests. In Germany, for instance, there is the union for construction workers, IG BAU. Just as workers form unions, employers also join together in their own associations. These are meant to make sure that the interests of the employers are also taken into account on the labour market. Labour market policies are all the policies that regulate the supply of and demand for workers. The aim here is to prevent there being unemployment
or – something that can also happen – that there are not enough workers. Labour market policies also try to produce the right conditions for creating as many new jobs and training possibilities as possible.
Gerd Schneider/ Christiane Toyka-Seid