European youth unemployment issue threatens EU long-term economic growth

High youth unemployment levels may hamper long-term recovery of the European Union
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May 22, 2014 - PRLog -- High youth unemployment levels may hamper long-term recovery of the European Union, says Alexander Müller, staff writer for Journal of Turkish Weekly web-based media, in his article titled “The EU’s blind sight: The costs of European youth unemployment.”

In his opinion, the young people in Europe are paying for the current crisis and do not feel the effects of economical recovery.

According to the Eurostat data cited by the author of the article, the average youth unemployment rate among the 15-25 year old EU citizens amounts to 23.5%, while in Greece it reaches 56%, and in Spain – 53%. In total, there are 5.6 mln unemployed young professionals living in the European Union.

Alexander Müller is convinced that the austerity measures taken by the EU Member States led to drastic changes for the worse in the job market, and to a decrease in wages.

In addition to that, in his opinion, austerity hinders economic growth and innovation, which in no way contributes to creating new jobs.

The journalist also thinks that the foundation for the difficulties during the hunt for the first job is laid during career guidance, because information that the future professionals receive is biased and does not reflect the real situation on the job market.

“Most young people are encouraged to go to university and to seek a degree in hopes of accessing better jobs, albeit at the considerable expense of their families. Hence, youths are actively deterred from pursuing certain careers in their desired fields and other industries, resulting in large skill gaps in the labor market,” the author writes.

Dwelling on this topic, he highlights the fact that an entire generation of professionals, many of whom lack money or assistance required for re-training, risk being forgotten by the government. In addition to that, in Alexander Müller’s opinion, if the situation is not resolved in the next few years, Europe will experience many thousand graduates that cannot find a job each year, which may lead to increase in emigration.

“Young people are willing to emigrate from Europe as they are desperately trying to find work. It is their hope that their degrees will get them employed abroad and that their self-worth will finally be recognized. Since the recession began, 200,000 Portuguese alone immigrated to former colonies such as Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, and Macau, where jobs are available in construction and mining,” staff writer reminds.

He places emphasis on the fact that the future European specialists have to tackle lack of social protection, high demands and tough competition on the job market. In addition to that, internship does not guarantee getting a job after it is finished.

“Internships are often seen as a way of bridging the gap between academic studies and the professional working environment. However, rather than being a valuable learning experience and a springboard to entering the proper labor market, internships are often equated to no more than modern-day slave labor. Much of the time they are of poor quality, unpaid, unrewarding, and lead nowhere. Furthermore, interns are often busied with unfulfilling tasks such as photocopying or running errands that lack a sense of educational value and achievement,” Alexander Müller explains.

In his opinion, even attractive and paid internships are no longer an option: the compensation is not enough to cover the minimum costs of living, which makes the youth rely on parental support in any case. The situation is also made difficult by the absence of cost-effective flights and lack of money for travel expenses.

In addition to that, as the author points out, a future professional may end up in a vicious circle with no means to find a way out if his or her family is disadvantaged.

“To illustrate, a Spanish student who has received an internship in Stockholm cannot accept it seeing that he lacks the financial means to travel to and settle in Sweden, and his family cannot support him,” Alexander Müller gives an example.

Also, the staff writer notes that many youths have to live with their parents due to the lack of a stable income. According to the information by Eurofound, the number of such cases increased from 44% to 49% in years from 2007 to 2012.

“This entails serious ramifications for the youths’ independence and transition into adulthood. Because they cannot support themselves, young people depend on their parents,” he explains.

In addition to that, Alexander Müller thinks that permanent job search difficulties also present a long-term threat for the youth.

“If young people face difficulties in maintaining a steady job without having to rely on unemployment benefits between jobs, the prospects of living in poverty ooprc following retirement increase. In order to be entitled to a pension in the future, young people must have paid their taxes and saved up for their retirement fund. This is obviously difficult if you lack permanent employment,” the author of the article writes.

He also points out that long jobless periods combined with the impossibility of starting to live on one’s own cause great stress to the young people.

“The ensuing psychological effects can be devastating for youths. The unemployed tend to feel more excluded and suffer from a higher rate of chronic depression, frustration, and psychological instability. This has reciprocal effects on their social lifestyles. Inactivity and unemployment do not compel people to participate in society or assume volunteer work. Furthermore, unemployed youths do not engage in as many social activities due to limited budgets, […] purchase meat only occasionally, are forced to buy second-hand rather than new clothes, and cannot afford annual holidays… They tend to feel marginalized by society and the business world alike,” Alexander Müller believes.

Speaking on the possible solutions, the author points out the importance of cooperation between the educational facilities and business representatives. From his point of view, career guidance must motivate the future professionals, engage them in the profession and consider the employers’ interests, while the latter must play an active role in the teaching process from the beginning to the end.

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