Employment and Social Developments in Europe review shows impact of COVID-19 crisis


The European Commission's services have published the 2021 edition of the Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review. The ESDE review shows that the COVID-19 crisis has impacted diverse sectors of the society. The education sector is among the sectors most impacted by the pandemic.

One of the most important findings from the ESDE review is that employment grew in critical sectors such as computer programming and telecommunications, where the work can be carried out from home and requires low social interaction. Sectors where work could not be carried out from home saw a drop in employment. The decline was less pronounced in critical frontline employment with high social interaction, such as nurses, personal care and, teachers including in early childhood education and care.

The geographical impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been uneven and may widen regional inequalities that already existed before the pandemic. The rise in unemployment was five times greater in rural areas than in cities. Across EU Member States, the Mediterranean regions were the most affected by job losses.

The impact of the crisis on national social dialogue and collective bargaining varied across EU countries. Countries with strong social dialogue institutions favoured the early involvement of social partners in designing and deploying response measures such as short-time work schemes. In some EU countries, health concerns limited traditional collective bargaining procedures, while in others the involvement of social partners increased in the light of urgent public interventions.

The decline in the EU employment rate was slightly higher for men than for women. However, the effect of the crisis on gender inequalities depends on various dimensions, and the pandemic highlighted long-standing gender inequalities. Women experienced a steeper decline in working hours than men and continued to take on the largest share of caring responsibilities. It is also important to note that ETUCE member organisations reported that online and hybrid teaching also resulted in women teachers facing increased workload, unsustainable work-life balance and psychological distress.

Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said: “The 2021 Employment and Social Developments review provides evidence that the pandemic has affected people and regions in different ways. We must keep this in mind as we shape a recovery that is inclusive and sustainable.”

Working closely with education trade unions across the European region, ETUCE can affirm that these findings also apply to non-EU countries, who are members of ETUCE. The education sector has been massively impacted by the pandemic. This crisis has challenged teachers and other education personnel in unprecedented ways. This pandemic offers an opportunity to further enhance trade union capacity and fight harder for human’s rights. The education sector has a key role to play in addressing the negative consequences of the pandemic and planning the recovery. This is why, following the 2021 ETUCE Extraordinary Conference, Education Trade Unions in Europe have adopted strategies for an education-led recovery to support the work of education trade unions’ work for the coming years.

For More Information

Press release on the ESDE review

Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review

Employment and Social Analysis section on the DG EMPL website