January 18, 2021

The curse of young people: unemployment or precariousness | Economy

The curse of young people: unemployment or precariousness | Economy

Youth was a divine treasure until the crisis came. From 2008 until today, those under 25 have clearly been the biggest victims of the regression experienced in the labor market. Even now that statistics have been reflecting improvements in employment for four years, the new generations are having trouble starting. It is not something new, it happens since in 1984 the spigot of precarization was opened, says Javier Polavieja, professor of Sociology at Banco Santander of the Carlos III University; since then, duality has become a structural part of the labor market, which means that temporary workers are expelled from the market with each recession. "Now, although the young people are better than they were [la tasa de paro ha pasado del máximo de 2013 del 55% al 33,5% de 2018], they drag that endemic problem that is precariousness, which does not seem to change until more radical measures are taken. "

Two reasons explain the uniqueness of the Spanish model, where unemployment and fixed-term contracts and part time they duplicate the European figures: "The productive structure of the country, in which service activities, such as tourism or trade, have a huge weight and also the culture of certain public and private employers to avoid contracting for time undefined for activities that are undefined, "says the director of the Office of the International Labor Organization (ILO) for Spain, Joaquín Nieto, who has seen the growth of the contracts of entrepreneurs and false self-employed workers in recent years.

A fraud that is determined because labor flexibility is not established in the country and because employers are afraid of compromise, according to the president of Asempleo (employers of temporary employment agencies), Andreu Cruañas. This encourages youth unemployment to be double that of the rest of the Spanish population, which, for Nieto, has very adverse consequences for society.

To begin with, the drastic fall in the remuneration of citizens between 16 and 29 years ago makes it practically impossible for them to design a life project with average annual salaries of between 8,000 and almost 16,000 euros. That is why it is not surprising that Spain occupy one of the last European positions in emancipation, along with Italy, Slovakia, Croatia and Malta, according to the study prepared by the Queen Sofia Center on Adolescence and Youth, which ensures that this "is the biggest gap with Europe, ahead of employment". Between 20 and 24 years, only 8% of young people leave the family home (compared to 30% of the European average), and they add almost 39% when they are between 25 and 29 years old instead of 59% continental. And it is not uncommon for Spain to have the third lowest birth rate in Europe, just behind Italy and Greece.

However, there is something much worse and that this group of 6.5 million people is taking off socially, in the opinion of the Council of Youth of Spain, since almost four out of ten young people are at risk of poverty. "The current youth poverty is intuited as a future evolution towards another social model," says the institution. The Valencian Institute of Economic Research (Ivie) he puts it another way: young people double their weight in the poorest population group, after worsening their employment opportunities by 40% since 2007. 45.7% of Spaniards between 16 and 30 years old are in the group of lower income (compared to 21.3% in 2007), reflects the study conducted with data from 2016, the latest available.

Carmen Herrero, Ivie researcher and one of the authors of the report, believes that the situation has not changed much since then because the quality of employment of young people has barely moved (37% have temporary contracts and 19%, also, part-time) and because they are not being trained to respond to the flexibility that the labor market needs; Universities insist on traditional specialization instead of adapting competences to the requirements demanded by the labor market.

"Although unemployment has dropped a lot, job instability is still huge for young people. Never before have we had more contracts for a week and part-time contracts have become a way to squeeze work shifts. The companies do not want to have workers and that's why they opt, in addition to the temporality, by the self-employed or by subcontracting in cascade ", says Carlos Martín, head of the Economic Cabinet of CC OO. So much so that even organizations like the European Commission have warned Spain that the widespread use of temporary contracts contributes to income inequality and exposes young people to a greater risk of poverty.

Good news in feminine

In the week of women, to which the labor market penalizes, Luis Garrido, Professor of Sociology of the UNED, brings good news: "with working age, the temporary employment of employees is changing decisively and is a surprise that in the case of women lasts less than in the case of men. " They are devastating in the labor market, appreciates, because since the 2008-2009 academic year they have not stopped studying, even those who work. 65% of university students start to work with a temporary contract, but their stability reaches four or five years, he says, while for those who do not have studies he appears around 40 years old.

"We are the group on which the crisis has most fallen because, when the austericide measures began and the labor reform of 2012 was approved, those expelled from the labor market were young people and, later, when actions were taken to contain unemployment, We were discriminated against with the entrepreneurs contract and with the internships in companies, where more than half of the workforce are interns. Thus, it is impossible to have the basic stability to make an approach to life ", explains Eduardo Magaldi, spokesperson for Ruge, the youth organization of the UGT union. Not to mention that young people not expelled from the market, those who worked, were those who saw their wages reduced the most, 28% in the case of those under 20 and 15% in those under 24, continues .

Neither have they been able to access social benefits and have had to take refuge in their parents' house or go abroad in search of employment opportunities. Even the Youth Guarantee sponsored by Europe failed in Spain, according to the director of the ILO; its poor design prevented all available funds from being used to increase hiring "and no one has taken responsibility for what went wrong," according to UGT.

Although, in this context, a positive fact stands out: many young people have taken advantage of these shortcomings to return to school or continue their studies, thus reducing the early school dropout rate between 18 and 24 years, from about 32% in 2008 to 18% current. One third of the young people have basic training, twice as many as in the OECD countries, and their situation is the most worrisome along with the 23% that have Secondary studies; while 44% are university students or have higher professional training.

However, even after 33 years, young people suffer a significant salary gap. They have to wait almost until the forties to get the average salary in Spain, says Magaldi, for whom "society seems to accept with normality the ordeal of precarious living young people," he appreciates. Something that is affecting their sense of belonging, which is an economic issue, and producing a breakdown of the social contract, which is transformed into political disaffection and distrust in institutions, according to Marcos Peña, president of the Economic and Social Council (CES). "Today, what most encourages the well-meaning young man is indignation," he says.

We are failing as a country by not offering young people adequate working conditions, in particular, trajectories that allow them to grow in the company as workers, as in the rest of the countries around us, to those who are leaving to save themselves from the precariousness and, more and more are those who, seeing the panorama of precarious work, choose not to return, appreciates Sara de la Rica, Professor of Economics at the University of the Basque Country. "We are losing a huge human capital, which is already scarce due to the demographic trajectory of our country, for acting in a very short-sighted manner," he warns.

The problem is diagnosed. And it is also part of an era in which the digital revolution modifies working conditions in a direction that is still unknown and whose first impact, caused by Internet service platforms, is what has been called the uberization of employment, which continues to affect once again precariousness, as the courts are deciding. A moment in which the demographic horizon draws an aging Spain and lacking in young people, which is the question for which the UNED Professor of Sociology, Luis Garrido, is optimistic: "It is already being noticed that the cohorts that retire they are superior in number to those of young people who finish their university studies, who find and find their place in the labor market ".

Although, despite the diagnosis, the recipes to combat the precariousness that young people face in this uncertain and changing world are not at all simple. At the moment, the important increase of the minimum salary up to 900 euros approved by the Government last December is well received by all sources consulted. Moreover, although some institutions predicted that it would cause significant declines in employment, for now it does not seem that at least in the short term it has caused a lower growth in hiring, says Sara de la Rica.

However, the plan of shock for the young job that came out a few days before the Council of Ministers after the agreement with the social agents does not enjoy as much credit. It arrives with 2,000 million euros under its arm to be used mainly for training, for 225,000 young people to acquire digital skills and to hire 3,000 counselors with the aim of reducing unemployment to 23.5%. The Government's program has good intentions, but it will be necessary to see how it gets underway or if it is put in place when there is a new Executive after the elections, points out Carmen Herrero. "Many youth plans have been developed and the problem is still there. Or take more structural measures, such as the development of professional skills, practices, scholarships or dual vocational training and agree the autonomous communities, competent in employment policies, or not work. The incoming government will make its own plan, "predicts Santiago Soler, secretary general of Adecco.

And, in the opinion of Marcos Peña, education is the main active employment policy that a country has. "And, or it is taken seriously, so that it does not change with each new Government, or Spain will not be fixed. The basis of the value of nations is training, intelligence. We have to adjust the knowledge to the reality of the country. Or we put the batteries or we are out of the world, "says the president of the CES. From his point of view, the pretension to apply a type of contract or a labor reform to find the solution to the problem of young people is a mirage. "The labor market is exhausted by so many reforms, we just have to simplify it, harmonize it and purge measures that have proved ineffective, such as bonuses, and reinforce social agents," he says.

Some recipes

This is not the opinion of sociologist Javier Polavieja, who is a supporter of the single contract with increasing compensation for dismissal based on seniority in the job; or Carlos Martín, for whom "the real legacy that we should leave to young people so that their lives leave the instability is to eliminate the contract for work and service, which explains together with the eventual contract, 90% of job insecurity; in addition to providing them with access to housing, generating a public park for rent at a regulated price ".

The measures to end the temporality and youth rotation should pass, according to Sara de la Rica, by requiring that they have a specific duration only contracts whose nature is temporary and criminalize fraud when detected. "We must monitor this fraud, because if it is not pursued it will never be eradicated. But this measure should be accompanied by greater legal security in permanent contracts so that this type of contracting is not discouraged. It is also essential to enable concerted internal flexibility measures in companies so that the last thing in a recession is dismissal ".

Carmen Herrero, emeritus professor at the University of Alicante, goes further and believes that for young people who can not live on their salary and access to public aid, a basic income must be introduced, subject to controls to avoid irregularities and taxing more taxes to the upper parts of the rents so that they are redistributed so that the risk of youth poverty can be reduced, something that the majority unions are also supporters of. All this must be accompanied, however, with greater control in the companies. "There is a lot of work to be done," he says.

Young people have not made revolution on the street because their families have clothed them, continues Carmen Herrero. The future is uncertain, but the new generations have the strength of age, the divine treasure to which the poem by Rubén Darío alluded after having lost it.

Guarantees to address digitization

New work modalities It is what is anticipated in the future and what is already derived from the technological transformation, at the doors of the massive automation of a multitude of jobs. Young people, the most adaptable staff, will have to adapt their skills to this new reality, which predicts more flexible jobs, hired by projects and freelancers. And a modern labor regulation, a 21st century statute, will be needed to guarantee the rights of these new employees, as manifested this week in a conference organized by the World Employment Confederation (WEC) and Asempleo.

The president for Europe of this group of employment services companies, Bettina Schaller, believes that Spain has the challenge of regularizing its labor market, the current and future to avoid fraud, and accustom society to guarantee the person instead of the job. And it refers to the courts of different European countries that are failing in favor of the employees of the digital platforms that hire them without respecting their rights.

"There are virtual developments in hyper-flexible markets and our labor legislation is not designed for them. Concrete tasks are contracted in virtual platforms that compete globally in that contracting, which has a very high potential risk of creating miserable lives for the workers. The challenge is to prevent these systems from spreading ", according to Javier Polavieja, Professor of Sociology. "It is necessary that the labor inspection acts with forcefulness before the frauds to prevent that they are generalized", supports the professor of Economy, Sara de la Rica.

However, new technologies open up great employment opportunities for better-educated young people. What the doubt of

How to combat the growing bipolarization among highly specialized and low qualified workers? A complicated task that the former Secretary General of UGT, Cándido Méndez, the fía back to education, the development of R & D & I and bet on a rise in lower wages, to introduce a floor for salaries in the collective agreements above 1,000 euros.


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