Young people are left with no job prospects

The second wave of the pandemic further complicates the young's professional future

Young people's job prospects were already difficult and now, as a result of a pandemic that is not abating, they are even more scarce. They are scarce in Catalonia, but also worldwide. The possibility of finding work abroad, which had become an option for many young Catalans owing to the lack of prospects here, has also diminished drastically. So there are more and more who have become a kind of new Neets: they do not study (because in some cases they have already reached their highest qualification, degree and masters) and who do not work because there is no way to find work. The frustration this causes is evident. When they are about to take off, their wings are cut off, and so are all the exits. We should not be surprised, then, by the discomfort and disenchantment of young people, who are forced to depend on their families and wait for better times.

The data does not look good. According to the Spanish Labour Force Survey (EPA), one in four young people under 30 (25.3%) is unemployed. A year ago, the percentage was already high, but not so high: it was 6% lower. The youth employment rate, which in 2019 in Catalonia stood at 50.9%, has now dropped to 43.8%. Those who have jobs are not spared either: they have back-to-back temporary contracts with low salaries. Precariousness is the norm. In fact, from the moment they sign their first contract until they get a permanent one, they have to wait an average of nine years, that is, all their youth. And this, of course, for those who do manage to enter the labour market early. But, in addition, among those lucky enough to have found their first job, in many cases the pandemic has also cut short their nascent professional careers, even if it is with compensation from a furlough scheme. In this case, they will have continued to receive part of their salary, yes, but with the frustration of an abruptly interrupted start in the world of work.

With all this in mind, it comes as no surprise that the average age for young people to leave home in Spain and Catalonia is 29.5 years - that of the European Union is 26.2 -, a figure that the pandemic could worsen still further. Unemployment and job insecurity, aggravated by the pandemic and added to high housing prices, leave most young people with no other option but to stay at home with their parents and thus give up an autonomous adult life. This is undoubtedly a major social problem that is difficult to solve in the short term. Young people will not have been a group that has been heavily punished directly by covid-19, which has been more lethal in older age groups, but they will have been major collateral victims of the economic crisis caused by Covid. Their employment prospects, which weren't good before the epidemic, have become even worse.

Faced with this situation, however, those affected should not just resign themselves to waiting for better times, and the public authorities should concentrate their efforts on finding a way out of the impasse that is jeopardising the full incorporation of too much young talent into society.

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