Youth Unemployment

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With youth unemployment in Spain having hovered for years around an average of 40 per cent, one would have hoped that PSOE or PP might have come up with new ideas. But then, originality of thought is not generally included in a politician’s took-kit. When the Government finally admitted that a ‘crisis’ existed, I wrote pointing out that, since something very similar had occurred back in the 1980s and early 90s, this should have come as no surprise.

At that time, with Northern Europeans finding themselves having to tighten their belts, the numbers of tourists visiting Spain fell dramatically, accompanied by a sharp drop in property sales, which resulted in the laying-off of thousands of construction workers.

At the time I wondered why, if ordinary people like me were able to foresee all this, why did it appear to be beyond the wit of bankers, economists, and politicians?

It doesn’t take a degree in Financial Services to understand that it was then, and still is now, dangerous to base Spain’s economy upon two inter-dependent activities.

Unfortunately, none of this seems to have affected political thinking (or is that an oxymoron?), with Government Ministers again talking about re-energising tourism and the construction industry.

What has all this got to do with Youth Unemployment?

Well, it seems to me that the Government, in encouraging youngsters to go to university, is interested only in seeing them disappear from the unemployment register in the short term. So, what’s to be done?

Instead of urging young people to take university courses, why doesn’t the Government use that money to encourage companies to abandon short-term contracts, taking on instead proper apprentices to learn useful trades as plumbers and electricians, not necessarily to work on large building projects, but also for domestic repairs and installations?

Long gone are the days when young men like myself, as we were, could, and did, carry out kerbside repairs and maintenance on our cars.

Today’s motor vehicles are far more complicated, requiring specialist knowledge and equipment, but where will we find tomorrow’s mechanics if they’ve all wasted their time achieving some meaningless university degree?

Another suggestion: Perhaps banks should be encouraged to provide preferential development loans to small and medium-sized businesses, allowing them to expand. A bank might lend €1,000,000 to a large company wanting to re-tool or open another branch, and this could produce 450 more jobs, but if the same amount were to be spread over a number of small businesses employing a total, say, of 2,000 people, it might generate 2,000 new employment opportunities.

After all, more people work in small and medium-sized businesses than in all the large companies put together.

Of course, this might mean more work for the banks, but then, they could always take on extra staff!

Another evil is nepotism. How many able young people are kept out of useful employment because any posts available are automatically filled by individuals with contacts in the firm or enchufe?

We’ve all come across them: dull-witted, disinterested ‘jobsworths’ occupying positions in a bank, or behind the counter in a local or central government office, simply because ‘somebody knows someone’.

If Spain is to compete successfully in the modern world, this is one practice that must cease.

 

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