Accueil » 35-1 ( 1980) » Politique de main-d’oeuvre et politiques publiques

Politique de main-d’oeuvre et politiques publiques

Jean Sexton, Claudine Leclerc et Esther Déom

Résumé

Dans le présent article, les auteurs tentent de situer la place de la politique de main-d'oeuvre à l'intérieur de l’éventail des différentes politiques publiques, notamment les politiques économiques et les politiques sociales.

Abstract

Manpower Policy and Public Policy

This paper tries to identify the place of manpower policy in the spectrum of public policies, and more particularly economic and social policies.

A manpower policy exists in relation to the labour market and, more specifically, labour market problems. The objective of manpower policy, in such a context, is to correct labour market problems and operating difficulties in a preventive or curative manner.

Many public policies can influence one or more aspects of the phenomenon of work and therefore the labour market. On the other hand, the efficiency of many specific instruments of economic or social policies depends largely on the efficiency of work and therefore of the labour market. This suggests the dynamic interdependency and complementarity between manpower policy and economic and social policies.

To better distinguish between different public policies it becomes necessary to try to determine the zone of performance of each of them, in the interest of better policy making and implementation.

Public policy is defined here as the set of actions and decisions taken by the State in order to improve the functioning of society or of a particular group of Society. Such state intervention has become necessary since it has been proven that a certain number of problems cannot find a solution by themselves.

The State can intervene by a series of instruments. It has been chosen to focus on the following: economic, social and education policies.

Economic policy is defined as the set of actions and decisions taken by the State in order to improve the economic functioning of society or of a particular group of society. The effects of such a policy are not solely economic and are not necessarily equal for everyone. Nor are they equal for all parts of the territory. There is therefore a need of more specific complementary instruments aiming at solving particular problems for given groups and/or given regions.

Social policy is defined as the set of actions and decisions taken by the State in order to insure income protection and to supply assistance to particular groups facing particular problems, in order to allow them to function "normally" in society. To the extent that such income protection and specific assistance are sought through the labour market, the interdependency and complementarity between social and manpower policies become obvious.

The education policy is defined by the set of actions and decisions taken by the State in order to encourage, for each citizen, the acquisition of knowledge and skills. To the extent that such knowledge and skills are essential ingredients for the functioning of individuals on the labour market, the interdependency and complementarity between education and manpower policies become obvious.

Manpower policy is defined as the set of decisions and actions taken by the State to improve the functioning of the labour market. As such, manpower policy has economic and social dimensions. Manpower policy cannot by itself find a solution to all labour market problems since the labour market is influenced by other public policies. Manpower policy must therefore adjust to other public policies, and vice versa, in order to maximize labour market functioning. Manpower policy therefore, plays a complementary role purely in the short or medium term because of the dynamics of the labour market, and because the long term aspect of the labour market is mostly in the spectrum of other public policies.

In such a context, a grey zone between manpower policy and other public policies is inevitable.

The most important difference between manpower policy and economic policy is that the former aims at offering selective actions for given groups with specific characteristics. Since the most important function of social policy is income protection, its link with manpower policy is such that manpower policy seeks to insure a more equitable distribution of opportunities for individuals on the labour market and a better quality of professional life.

In the matter of skill and knowledge acquisition, the education policy mainly touches the consumption aspect of education, except perhaps for skill training of youth within the normal schooling network. Because of its nature, manpower policy then mainly touches the short and medium investment aspect of adult education. However, the subjective difference between investment in education and consumption of education makes it more difficult to generalize as to the specific zones of performance of education and manpower policies.

It is therefore possible to offer a certain number of general criteria to help determine if such and such public policy instrument having an effect on the labour market is part of the zone of performance of manpower policy or not.

a) manpower policy instruments

- correspond to a specific need in the labour market;

- direct and selective;

- focus in the short and medium term

b) Other public policy instruments

- correspond to a general need of society or of a particular group but not for labour market purposes;

- mainly macro;

- direct in the long term;

- indirect in the medium and long term.

c) Grey zone instruments

- direct, intended and controled but belonging to another public policy than manpower policy.