Youngsters and labour: a difficult duality to pair

34% of workers between 16 and 24 years old are unemployed

If, in a favourable economic context, the youth unemployment rate is already double than that of the overall population in any European country, with the outbreak of the covid crisis the incorporation of young people into the world of work has become a real odyssey. "They have a real problem because the labour market is practically at a standstill, there is no type of temporary contract, let alone indefinite one", warns Jordi García, professor of labour law at the University of Barcelona (UB).

The data is unquestionable: there are currently 105,500 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 in Catalonia who are unemployed, according to the latest survey of the active population (EPA). This is 22,100 more than when the pandemic began. In other words, one in three of the workers in this age group is unemployed (34%), when in the first quarter of the year, when the coronavirus outbreak occured, this percentage was 28% - only a year ago it stood at 23%. Another example of the fact that the doors to the labour market are practically locked are the jobs that are to be created for this Christmas campaign, and which are normally occupied by young people. According to a study by the consultancy firm Randstad, 42,320 contracts will be generated in Catalonia, a figure that represents 38% fewer contracts than in the same period in 2019 - which means returning to the level of 2015.

Will last week's vaccine announcements reactivate the working world? For Garcia, recovery will be slower than it is being reported. "Until consumption is increased this will not occur, because the Catalan economy depends mainly on services and tourism", he clarifies.

Two generations looking for work

In this regard, he warns that the generation that is now trying to enter the labour market will face two major problems. The first is that those who have finished their studies last year will lose this year, and when work is reactivated the companies will penalize them for this halt. That is why Garcia recommends the group to continue training even with complementary activities. "It is the only way to be more valuable for a job when everything goes back to normal", he defends.

The other problem is that, if it is confirmed that the recovery is slow, the promotion that finished studying last year will accumulate at the gates of the labor market together with the generation that finishes this year, and therefore it will be harder to find work.

Within pessimism, however, the University of Barcelona professor reminds us that this is not the first crisis that has occurred in the last two decades. "We always end up overcoming them, however, we do not know when", he concludes.

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