Youth was meant to be the vision of a prosperous and thriving European society, which, undoubtedly, in the last five years is in recession and is struggling to stand against a complete collapse. As long as the regulators of the zone do not try to attempt some sort of adjustment towards a final solution which will enforce the pulley to start over again, the percentages of youth unemployment will continue to increase until the whole generation will be called the ‘lost generation’, an opinion that has already been expressed by a wide range of people.
Since the beginning of the economic crisis of 2008, which has devastated European economies, the reality of the Eurozone has completely changed. Although the then-leaders didn’t respond with an immediate manner, it appears that now they are taking the situation seriously. Youngsters had rung the emergency bell before, but there had been no response. A combination of multiple reactions have already come to the forefront, with unemployed youth (18-25) finding themselves at risk of marginalization and exclusion from society. The numbers for youth in all European countries are more than twice as high as adult rates.
At the same time, there is a trend of young people of having less stable jobs, with temporary contracts. People tend to ignore the possibility that young employees could lead to a new era of stability because of their passion and strength for work. Unfortunately, though, it is a reality that employers rarely hire young workers, something that derives from the fact that young people come from inflexible markets and many of these candidates have totally unmatched skills with the requests of the society. They represent the gap between what young people learn and what employers want.
The society challenge
Jobs are a consequence of economic growth. When this doesn’t exist, then that means that there are no jobs available. Nevertheless, there are estimated two million vacancies in the job market, despite the economic crisis. But the question is, can we really work in whatever job is available, despite our education level? The answer can vary, from the one society and person to another. In any case, there are more vacancies in technical or manual work, which is an issue, as many skilled young professionals seeking work are not attracted to this kind of work. They prefer to be unemployed, waiting to find a more adequate position, instead of making the most of their time. Many times this is due to the “judgemental” eye of society, viewing many of these as ‘low’ jobs. This is how working not only becomes a matter of economic survival, but also something that configures our prestige.
Is there a solution, somewhere along the horizon?
Despite what some may believe, unemployment is more costly for the State, in comparison to providing the right education for its people. Although we are supposedly in an era of recovery, numbers remain dangerously high enough to provoke turmoils in governments.
With Greece hitting the top of Eurozone with 57,3% unemployment, often enough in this tiny country young workers barely exist. Consequently, they are marginalized from the productive process of being part of the economy. In fact, at the beginning of 2014, unemployment was estimated at an alarming 60,6%. This is an enormous percentage with possible grave consequences such as the vanishing of a whole generation, which could stir components that can lead the state-ship to its sink.
As Mark Esposito writes in The Guardian, he parallels unemployment with a boat which is slowly sinking: in order to save ourselves we are trying to dismantle the pieces of the ship to make fire to signal for help. Unemployment can only go so far until it sinks completely.
Europe is trying to find solutions to help, but it is constantly moving in a spiral. As the EU recommends training schemes, as employers insist that candidates do not develop the right skills to find a job and they do not match the job-skills demand, even if one does training, that does not automatically translate into a job offer. The EU claims that these training programs can make the transition from the school to work easier, and equip young people with the right skills. Therefore it is observed as a correlation between the leaders and the market again. Maybe it’s time to make the right moves to finally avoid the traps.
Unemployment figures, as expected, increased this year. Countries will continue to suffer significant losses if little or no action is taken to address the root issues of unemployment. It is paramount for governments to make impressive and corrective efforts to keep the crisis from worsening. It is not just our young people who lose if they cannot find work – society as a whole will suffer tremendously. Our future is at risk.