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‘Simple jobs’ for disqualified workers. Employability at the bottom of the labour market.

Eva Nadai & Anna Gonon (2021)

Preprint.

Extract: “This chapter focuses the firm as a crucial site of valorisation. Drawing on the theoretical framework of the Economics and Sociology of Conventions (EC/SC) it examines the relation between low-skilled jobs and workers from the perspective of quality conventions for labour. On what grounds and in which jobs are workers without formal qualifications still regarded as valuable labour and how is valorisation tied to a firm’s coordination of production and its employment strategies? EC accords the enterprise a central role as ‘the principal actor deciding on the value of workers’ (Larquier 2016, 36). Hence, skills are not valuable in and of themselves but only inasmuch they are valued by a specific firm. We will show, first, that the value of low-skilled workers is contextual insofar it is just as much based on their fit into an existing work organisation and company culture as on their individual abilities. Second, the relation between the fit into the coordination of production and value can go both ways: firms can select workers who fit the skills requirements of a job, or they can adapt technical and organisational formats to the abilities of the available workforce. Third, certain qualities are valued and devalued at the same time: they constitute significant criteria for the selection and evaluation of workers, yet they are not acknowledged as occupational qualifications.”

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