Spain’s lost generation

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Spain boasts the unflattering title of having the highest number of NEETS (young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training) in the entire European Union.

Nearly one in four (25.79 per cent) of young people aged between 15 and 29 in Spain are doing absolutely nothing, a report has said. It is not that they don’t want to, however, but the current climate is not affording them the possibility.

The annual report published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was released in Madrid today by Education Secretary Monteserrat Gomendio. If Spain is compared with the other 34 countries that form the OECD, only Turkey has a higher amount of NEETs in a similar situation to Spanish youths (29.19 per cent).

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Spain’s percentage of NEETs is far higher than the OECD average, recorded at 14.9 per cent in 2012, which has continued to fall year on year while the reverse is true in Spain, which recorded 1,956,900 people as NEETs at the start of 2013, according to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics.

According to the OECD, when the labour market falls, as has happened in Spain, young people are often the first group to encounter problems. Spain is different from many other countries in that the majority of its NEETs are unemployed but actively seeking work, (19 per cent as opposed to the 6 per cent OECD average).


In contrast, NEETs who have given up looking for work only make up 7 per cent of Spanish youth, a figure which is below the OECD average of 9 per cent.

Economists say that the main cause for Spain’s high 25.79 per cent NEET rate may well stem from the Golden Age of the Spanish economy at the start of the 21st century.


Known as the ladrillo (brick) boom, many young people in Spain left education at 16 to get rich quick in the construction industry. With the economic crisis, construction projects ground to a halt, and many young people were left unemployed and with no recourse to higher education. Forty five per cent of all Spaniards currently between the ages of 25 and 64 left full time education at 16-years-old.

One positive to draw from the report is that the newest generation of Spanish NEETs is better prepared than the older generation. The only trouble with this is that there are no jobs to satisfy their ambitions, leaving many to seek their fortunes abroad.




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