When comparing current youth with the generation that premiered the 20 before the crisis that shook the world in 2008, two aspects attract a lot of attention: the precariousness of employment and the demographic drain. The first one translates into a wage devaluation experienced between 2008 and 2016 by practically all workers, but concentrated in the lowest age brackets: the average wage of those under 20 suffered a 28% decrease; the fall for those from 20 to 24 was 15%; and 9% for those from 25 to 29, according to the Annual Salary Structure Survey.
The second major structural change is the thinning of the new generation: the 4.8 million Spaniards aged 20 to 29 years that the INE accounted for at the beginning of the year represent a decrease of almost 30% compared to the 6.7 that were in 2005. An impressive demographic slump.
"A growing number of precarious tendencies have been accentuated since a young man consolidates his life project on two pillars: working conditions and access to housing, and both temporary and rental prices have worsened over the years," says Carlos Gutiérrez, Secretary of Youth of CC OO, a union that has just published # Generaciónmovil, an X-ray of youth whose main conclusion is that precariousness "is no longer defined as an initial or transitory phase", but that "it is increasingly being extended as a oil stain that forms a new normality of the labor market ".
The precariousness of young people at work can be analyzed from two main areas: temporality and rotation from one position to another. While the temporality fell in the last decade for the group of workers, it has returned to rebound for those under 29 and is already higher than before the crisis. But the great winner in the labor practices of the 20-somethings is the part-time contract, mostly unwanted. During the crisis, the destruction of employment affected mainly full-time jobs. The consequence is that the hourly contracts for those under 29 went from 15% to 27%, according to CC OO calculates with data from the EPA.
Faced with so much negativity, the sociology professor Luis Garrido is much more optimistic. According to their studies, the temporality rates have remained surprisingly stable in each age group in previous generations. And he sees no reason for this to change in the future. Garrido flees from any speech that carries the tagline of "lost generation". "Of lost generation nothing, quite the contrary!" Protests. He detects two factors that place young people today in a much more favorable situation than their predecessors: the mass return to the studies -especially the girls- that they gave after the shock of the crisis and the lower competition for the demographic fall.
The poor prospects of finding employment plunged school dropout drastically: in 2006, the number of male workers aged 16 to 24 reached the same level as students. This year, 63% of boys and girls of that age are dedicated only to books, compared to 15% of those who only work. "Many young people say they are desperate for bad prospects, but they have enormous advantages, among others, being very few, and there is no advantage comparable to this," concludes Garrido, who has been scrutinizing EPA data for decades.
Despite this bright future that the professor of Sociology anticipates, young people face a very difficult present. This is clear from the report that this week will be published by the Queen Sofia Center on Adolescence and Youth. This barometer shows that the impact of the crisis was greater among young Spaniards than in those of other European countries. "To measure emancipation, we study public policies, the economic situation and cultural factors, in this respect, Spain continues below its neighbors, and the gap continues to grow," says Eulalia Alemany, of the Reina Sofia Center. Another problem that young people like Severino Edjagn will have to face. "My friends and I find it very difficult to find a good stable job, rather we think we will be jumping from one position to another," summarizes this 25-year-old PF student.
THOSE WHO HAD 20 YEARS BEFORE THE CRISIS
ANA PASTOR, 37 YEARS OLD | Archaeologist
"The new generations are more competitive than us"
In September 2010, EL PAÍS began the ambitious series (Pre) unemployed, where over 20 installments radiographed the youth who were facing a crisis that was just beginning. In it, the archaeologist and restorer Ana Pastor lamented the damage to find work that brought her over-preparation. "I consider eliminating the two careers that I have from my curriculum," he said. Eight years have passed in which Pastor has managed to improve his economic situation. But living from his profession still seems a chimera.
When he gave the interview, his dreams were to work as a restorer of archaeological assets. He did it for a year and a half. But the crisis – which hit the cultural sector hard – destroyed his company. And Pastor, who in 2010 complained about being too prepared, continued to train. He did a master's degree with a scholarship. Now he is studying a doctorate course.
"What if I have fulfilled my expectations then? I would say that I have surpassed them. I am very happy to have continued training. But I am clear that the title of doctor is not going to open new work doors, "he assures the telephone from Barcelona. Today, Pastor makes compatible a job of survival in a company of attention to the client with his courses of doctorate.
At the age of 37, he has the perspective to compare himself with the younger students with whom he lives. "Those who come behind are more competitive. The crisis has made them more individualistic. And in the University I see very strong class inequalities that I did not see when I started studying, "he concludes.
CLARA FERNÁNDEZ, 33 YEARS OLD | Actress and waitress
"The youngest have become accustomed to precariousness"
EL PAÍS has contacted some protagonists of the 2010 series (Pre) unemployed. The idea is to analyze how, since then, young people have shown that at the beginning of the crisis they showed their frustration for a collapsing labor market; and compare their situation with that of those who are now the same age as they were then. Clara Fernandez was one of the protagonists of the series, where she listed the problems she had faced in order to have a paid job. Now he has been in Lucerne (Switzerland) for three years, where he moved for personal reasons.
The few exits of his career in psychopedagogy led Fernandez, now 33, to devote himself to his passion: theater. In Lucerne, besides learning German and working as a waitress in a cultural center, she has managed to develop her artistic side in a theater and circus company.
"I'm specializing in puppets, and I can dedicate myself to this because in Switzerland the idea of having a part-time job just to pay the bills is developed, and that you have time to take care of the things that really interest you," he says. by phone before entering your waitress shift.
What difference do you see between her and the generations that come after her? "They have become accustomed to precariousness, they believe that it is the norm, because it is the daily life they have lived," he replies. It is the difference with those of his age, who grew up thinking that everything was on their side and they came face to face with the crisis. "My mother told me that if I studied I would do well, and look at me, I have three races and I have to work on the future every day."
THE CURRENT TWENTY-YEARS
GUILLERMO REBOLLO, 21 YEARS OLD | student
"Surely I will have to go to work outside of Spain"
Guillermo Rebollo interrupts the writing of an essay on the Gender Violence Law to answer the call of EL PAÍS. He studies the double degree of Sociology and Political Science at the Complutense University, speaks English and French and is clear that, before jumping into the jungle of the labor market, he prefers to continue training. "Without a master's degree, it will be very difficult to find a good job," he says.
After all this academic journey, Rebollo is seen more outside than within Spain. "Surely I'll have to go abroad to work, preferably to Europe," he says. This 21-year-old does not see this forced emigration as something negative: "I want to live outside, but I also see that I have no other choice, I doubt that in Spain I will find a job in my field." This is where you see a difference between your generation and the one immediately before. Before, he thinks, the young people left when they had no other choice. But he and his friends see an attractive option abroad.
This is a subjective perception. But what the statistics show is that their generation colleagues frequent the classrooms more than their older siblings: from 2000 to 2018, the percentage of young people who only study has increased 18 points, while those who only work have also fallen 18 points.
The last difference between them is, according to Rebollo, the worst job prospects of those born in the nineties. "We are going to have to spend more years as scholarship recipients, I am afraid of ending up in a state of eternal precariousness, which is why I also consider studying competitive exams."
VICENTE BELAIRE, 22 YEARS OLD | Laboratory technician
"Many companies want you to always be a grantee"
At 22, Vicente Belaire is very close to the example of the previous generation. This student of FP shares the classrooms of the higher degree of laboratory technician with classmates of 35 years who left the studies in the heat of the boom of the Spain of the brick.
"They say that before it was easier to find a job with a good salary, but as they did not have training, with the crisis they were unemployed," says Belaire, who is consoled at the thought that thanks to his practical studies he will be able to find a job. "Although, yes, I will have to adapt to tougher conditions than before," he explains.
Belaire considers himself very well trained. After studying the higher level of Environmental Chemistry, now he is in Environmental Health. And he is glad to be able to enjoy some technical advances that will facilitate his work. That is "the pro" of having his age. "The contra" also detects it clearly: the conditions of the labor market. "Many companies, if not all, force you to have a long period of scholarship, it is something that I talk a lot with my colleagues, we are afraid that they only take us as scholars, and that they want us to continue like this," says Belaire , which belongs to 35% of Spanish students who choose FP after high school. This is still a low percentage compared to 50% of the EU.
Belaire is aware that it will be difficult for him to become independent from his parents. Going to live alone does not pose it. "With the price of rents, I do not see it possible to rent by myself, I would like to go live with friends."