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The construction sector is the leading industrial employer in Europe, representing 7.5% of total European employment and 28.1% of industrial employment in the European Union . The European construction sector comprises roughly 1.9 million construction firms, of which 97% have fewer than 20 workers and 93% fewer than 10.

Approximately 11 million workers are directly employed in the European construction sector. Employment in the sector has a very powerful multiplier effect on employment as a whole; one job in the construction industry generates two new jobs in the overall economy . A strong employment policy in the construction sector therefore has a positive impact on employment in general.

Compared with other industrial activities, the construction sector is by far the most labour-intensive industry. About 50% of turnover is achieved through the labour of the workers. For this reason the work force of construction firms constitutes the main economic lever for the future survivability of the sector. Productivity in the sector largely determines the competitiveness of building enterprises.

Traditionally construction workers are an exceedingly vulnerable group in the highly competitive battle between building firms. A high incidence of work accidents (some of which with a fatal outcome), a substantial number of cyclical unemployed and a large proportion of undeclared work (more on further on) are therefore not unknown phenomena in the sector.

The fiercely competitive situation in the construction sector is apparent inter alia from the strong pressure to drive down prices ever lower. A major adverse effect of the competitive pressure is the relatively high number of bankruptcies in the sector. The incidence of "fraud" is also extremely high.

The construction sector is not only the biggest industrial employer, but also the motor of general employment policy. The impact of the sector on economic, social and fiscal policy is of considerable importance for national authorities.

Find related articles on this subject
EU project 2007 : Flexicurity and self employment in the construction industry
EU project 2008 : ECMIN
EU project 2008 : Open coordination method of wages in the construction industry
EU project 2008 : Self-employment and bogus-self-employment in the European construction industry
EU project 2009 : Working time and reconciling professional and private life in Construction
EU project 2010 : Pensions and early retirement in the construction industry
EU project 2011 : European Sector Skills Council in the construction industry
EU project 2012 : Strengthening social inclusion of migrant workers in the European Construction Industry
EU project 2014 : European report on social Identity Cards in the construction industry

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