Youth Unemployment

UN Photo/Jean Pierre Laffont

UN Photo/Jean Pierre Laffont

Youth unemployment. This is one of the major concerns for young people all over the world today, especially in the countries going through major economic crises.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are 75 million youths looking for jobs around the world today [1]. However, it is not only unemployment that is affecting our fellow youngsters across the world.  The precarious conditions in which they work involve low salaries and long hours, with interns feeling lucky to be paid since the increase of unpaid internships in which one works as a slave with only a “thank you” and a whisper from the boss hoping that this job will help you find better future opportunities.  How are we, the younger generation, supposed to survive in a society ruled by plutocracy (money) if we cannot get a job?

There shouldn’t be anything wrong with a person full of energy and motivated to work. Is the market not working efficiently or are we attending to the beginning of the end of capitalism?  You can find the answer by asking any unemployed youngster. For example, if we look at the Canary Islands, we see 70% of youths unemployed despite the fact that many people would question this figure after looking at the great opportunities the wonderful beaches and the warm, welcoming people can provide in the Archipelago.  And do not forget that overall, youth unemployment in Spain is 57,22% as of May 2013.  Therefore, whose fault is it, and what are the solutions? Should we blame the global financial crisis, the government or the educational system?  Let’s have a look at each of them.

Firstly, the global financial crisis has affected Spain profoundly along with the whole of Europe. However, I sometimes question if this is indeed a real crisis on comparison to the war, famine and inexcusably high infant mortality rates experienced in other regions of the world. During all this suffering, the world’s largest banks are maintaining their profits of thousands of millions of dollars each year, and it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine these big bankers riding the waves with their newly purchased yachts at the ports of Monaco, Cannes and Saint Tropez to affirm this reality.

Secondly, if we have a look at what the governments are doing to tackle the issue of youth unemployment, I have the feeling that they do not want to solve this problem because of the pressure exerted on them by the big transnational corporations that operate only to increase their own profits.  This means that the more unemployment there is, the more likely it is that people are willing to work for less money.  This means that there is a tendency for the youth to work for lower salaries or often for free with many of these unpaid internships whilst the big transnational corporations continue to increase their profits. In Spain’s case, they do not care if the consumers have less money (PPP lowers) because most of the larger companies’ exports are abroad.

Is there an alternative? Yes, there is, with education and training being the keys. If these big transnational corporations want to continue increasing their profits, the solution is to increase the productivity of their workers.  This can be done through additional training and education, especially with the younger workers who have little or no previous work experience. I would be glad if the individuals forming these governments would stop playing with the backdoor and combine their private interests (“playing” with the big transnational corporations) with an interest for the common good of the public in order to serve their country and humanity.  This would guarantee equal opportunities for all with special focus on employment for the youth.

Thirdly, we have only seen Scandinavian governments, followed by those in Singapore and the City of Shanghai, take the important matter of education seriously.  The excuse of the financial crisis has allowed governments to cut their budget on education and healthcare, among other basic social services, whilst the budget for the military has still been maintained.  Furthermore, governments have given thousands of millions of euros of public money to bail out the banks, the very ones responsible in instigating the financial crisis, and especially Spain’s real estate bubble, with most of the bankers still keeping their substantially high salaries and profits from the unbelievably high retirement bonds. However, it is the younger generation who is to pay the consequences of this crisis (and the public debt of 38,000 million euros per year) [2]. They do not have a voice despite the demonstrations and the public awareness campaigns in the streets of Spanish cities, whilst in the meantime, the Minister of Education, José Ignacio Wert, is concentrating his efforts on debating the non-existent problem of the language of education [3] in certain regions of Spain instead of putting all the energy of the ministry into tackling the root-causes of the problems facing the educational system – such as the 25% dropout rate in secondary schools [4].  Instead, the Minister should be focusing on increasing the quality of education [5] in order to create a positive effect on the future of younger people whilst, at the same time, increasing the chances of overcoming the current economic crisis.  Sadly, I feel that the Minister would prefer to keep lowering the quality of public education with the new laws that instate an increase for private schooling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to receive a nice salary from the larger private schools and universities in Spain once his mandate has finished.  This is what I consider to be the “backdoor” between politics and private interest because this goes against the common good of the country by not promoting equal opportunities for all young people.

Now the younger generation is facing a situation in which it does not have a deciding voice but where it will still have to pay the consequences of this financial and economic crisis.  I consider this also to be a moral crisis where the only value appears to be one of increasing profits, regardless of the social costs.  Finally, as a young person, I am worried about my future and the future of my fellows of a similar age around the world.  I would be happy to receive any comments with constructive solutions to help solve this problem of global youth unemployment in response to this article.

To conclude, I share with you a video about the Youth Employment Forum with the title “We need action!”:


[1] International Labor Organization (2013), Youth unemployment, available online:–en/index.htm.

[3] Wert: “Españolizar a los niños catalanes”:

[4] Education: Reduce school failure to boost equity and growth. OECD:

[5] OECD, 2012. Equity and Quality in Education: Supporting Disadvantaged Students and Schools. Spotlight Report: Spain.

The following two tabs change content below.

Pau Petit

Former Representative of UNA Spain Youth Section to UNYANET.

Latest posts by Pau Petit (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.