International organisations warn about the rate in Spain. SUR
This week, the European Union urged the Spanish government to optimise the financial assistance it will receive in the future by spending more money on combating youth unemployment and less on infrastructure. In other words, the funds from Europe should be used where they are most needed in order for Spain to exit from the crisis. This is important, because it concerns a significant figure: for the period 2007 -2013, Spain received nearly 44,000 million euros, four per cent of its GDP.
This is not the only warning about youth unemployment and its causes. Figures published by Unesco in its annual 'Education For Everybody' survey show that Spain has the highest incidence in Europe of educational failure and the integration of young people into the labour market. One out of every three Spanish people between the ages of 15 and 24 left school without completing their secondary education. The European average is one in five.
The consequences of the high rate of youth unemployment could be catastrophic in the future. The International Work Organisation (OIT) warns in a report that “persistent unemployment and under-employment among young people carry with them a high socio-economic cost and pose a threat to the fabric of society”. One clear example of these high costs can be found in the so-called 'ni-ni', young people who are not studying or working (“Ni estudia ni trabaja”). A recent study for the European Commission shows that last year, in the whole of the European Union, this group generated total losses of 153,000 million euros - 1.2 per cent of GDP - , taking into account the lower consumption and the taxes which are not paid by these people. Out of this total, nearly 11,000 million were direct costs for the governments. In the case of Spain, the 'ni-ni' represented losses of 15,700 million euros a year.
Youth unemployment is a major problem in some European countries. In September the rate reached 23.3 per cent in the euro zone and 22.8 per cent in the EU as a whole, compared with 21 per cent and 21.7 per cent respectively in September 2011. Manuel Escudero, the general director of Deusto Business School, says the local work market has always been unfair to young people. He says it is polarised by 'insiders' and 'outsiders', where some people are in an overly protected situation and others are almost completely unprotected and he adds that "this one-third of temporary workers that we have had in the past 20 years basically relates to young people". So, for him, we have arrived at the present situation because of a combination of an unfair system and the effects of the crisis.
The OIT warns that strong measures are needed because there are nearly 75 million unemployed young people in the world, four million more than in 2007, and more than six million have abandoned the search for a job.
Manuel Escudero believes that in Spain there is already more than one lost generation. “This country is not capable of providing opportunities for professional development of the new generations. A country that does this is one which is destroying itself”, he says.
Ángels Valls, from the People and Organisation Management department of ESADE, says there are two different types of profile in youth unemployment: one with some training and work experience and the other with no training or experience. She believes that the term 'lost generation' applies most to those who have worked in a series of occupations which do not require specialisation, training or experience. "I believe that there was already a lost generation at the moment when they abandoned their education to enter into a labour market in which they were not going to grow from a professional point of view", she explains.
Long term solutions
Manuel Escudero says there will be no solution until there is growth and until “the labour reforms eliminate this model of 'outsiders-insiders', in which young people are worse off from the point of view of temporary work”.
Meanwhile, Ángels Valls believes there is a problem of attitude because at times it is not just a case of having an opportunity but of recognising and appreciating it. “These people need motivation so they understand what their integration into the labour market involves”, she adds. She thinks that, despite the crisis, opportunities do still arise. “We can see exactly, from the Social Security figures, when people are going to retire and in which companies they are going to do so. From there, we can plan the substitution of these people”, she explains.
Another solution could be in professional training and work experience to prepare young people for the labour market. According to Unesco, every dollar spent on education and skills results in a return of 10 dollars for the investing country.