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Students at an Escuela de Segunda Oportunidad (second chance school). SUR / Archive
Number of young people not working or studying slashed by half in Malaga, and this how it has been achieved
Education

Number of young people not working or studying slashed by half in Malaga, and this how it has been achieved

Figures have steadily been improving since 2015, when more than 21% of the province's population aged between 15 and 24 confessed to being a "nini"

Nuria Triguero

Malaga

Wednesday, 22 May 2024, 10:13

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The stereotype of the "nini" (ni estudia ni trabaja), the name given to young people who remain in the family home without studying or working, has tarnished their image in Spain.

The term was created during the economic crisis of 2008, as during those years there was a high percentage of young people who remained jobless and were not studying. The peak was reached in 2015, when more than 21% of the Malaga population aged between 15 and 24 confessed to not be studying nor working. Since then, the percentage has practically halved to 11.1%, according to latest available data (from 2023) in the CaixaBank VET Observatory. In 2022 it was even lower, at 10.1% of the population in this age group.

This drastic reduction suggests the interpretation that much of public opinion made of this phenomenon - "today's young people are lazy" - was not correct. On the contrary, it seems to indicate that those young people who remained outside the job market and the education system did so - at least in part - because of a lack of opportunities or because of a "discouragement effect" caused by the adverse economic situation.

The reduction in the number of "ninis" is not the only good news in relation to youth employment. Unemployment among the under 25s has also been reduced by less than half in a decade: from 20,447 unemployed in Malaga province in 2014 to 9,512 in 2024. Employment has grown by nearly 90%, from 24,000 to more than 45,000 in this age group.

There are also indicators that speak of greater permanence in the education system: in 2012 the early drop-out rate was 27.7% and in 2022 it had fallen to 15.9%. The number of university students has not increased, but the number of vocational training students has increased (almost doubled): from 5,985 graduates in 2012 to 10,445 in 2022.

What has changed in ten years?

The NGO Arrabal-AID has a long history of working with unemployed young people and those at risk of exclusion in Malaga. Its president, Julio García, pointed out two main reasons why there are now fewer "ninis" and more young people working or in training: the Youth Guarantee Plan and the development of vocational training.

It was in 2013 the EU launched the Youth Guarantee Scheme: a transnational initiative which aims to reduce youth unemployment and is based on the commitment of member states to ensure all young people under the age of 25 receive a job offer, further education, apprenticeships or traineeships within four months of becoming unemployed or finishing their formal education. In Spain, it took time to get off the ground and began to be effectively implemented in 2015, with 3.2 billion euros invested since then. Its measures include bonuses for hiring young people, employment training courses and job orientation.

On the educational side, the great lever for bringing young people out of inactivity is vocational training. "New branches and families of vocational training have been introduced, which are attractive and highly employable, and this has encouraged many more young people to study," said the president of Arrabal. "With the new law on vocational training this is going to improve even more. Dual vocational training and links with companies and the labour market will be strengthened, as well as guidance and support for students," he added.

Added to this is an obvious circumstance: "We are in a period of expansion and there are more job opportunities", acknowledges Díaz, who added: "We are in another generation of young people and also of fathers and mothers. And this generation of parents is the most educated in history. It has been shown that people who have more education are more interested in their children being educated and perhaps have more resources to ensure they don't drop out of the education system".

Plan against youth unemployment

The situation has improved, but it is far from ideal. Youth unemployment is still very high: 37% in Andalucía, almost ten points above the national average. Reducing this gap is "a priority" for the regional ministry of employment. Its head, Rocío Blanco, recently announced a plan against youth unemployment that will include incentives for the stable hiring of unemployed young people worth more than 250 million, as well as measures aimed at job orientation and training that will add another 67.5 million.

The main pillar of this regional strategy is a programme of incentives, financed by the European Social Fund, for the indefinite hiring of young people and vulnerable groups, amounting to 145.3 million euros. This is in addition to the Andalucía Activa employment plan, which involves 110 million euros for town councils and local entities to hire unemployed people.

In addition, the first call for comprehensive projects for the labour integration of young people will be launched in autumn, with a total of 65.8 million euros to be invested in collaboration with public and private entities specialised in working with this group. The plan is to reach 12,300 young people. And there is another programme, called Alma Jóvenes, for professional internships abroad, with a budget of 2.5 million euros, which will be launched in the last quarter.

Second chance schools, a model that works

The Escuela de Segunda Oportunidad (second chance school) are an educational and socio-occupational intervention model designed to rescue unemployed and unqualified 16-29 year olds from ostracism. "Individualised accompaniment is offered, both in employment and academic matters, with the dual objective of completing secondary education and an itinerary of labour market insertion. One objective does not come before the other: both are addressed at the same time," explained Julio García, president of the NGO Arrabal, which cares for 60 students in its second chance college in Malaga. This model boasts a 61% success rate and the regional government is committed to extending its implementation in Andalucía, allocating 12.8 million euros to finance these schools from 2025 onwards.

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