In the Canary Islands, one can talk about the dependence of tourism on the economy, the historical and systemic problem of poverty, its special character because it is an ultra-peripheral region. But the always high unemployment rate also has a place in all this. For older and not so old. The economic and health crisis has blackened the plans of many Canarians who have not been able to annex their exit from the academic field with the world of work. The first step out of college can take years to arrive. Most of them feel frustrated and point out that, if before it was already difficult to get a job, now more. According to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), youth unemployment amounts to almost 50% in the Archipelago. The employment rate (number of people who work among the active population) calculated by the Canary Institute of Statistics (ISTAC) is very low: 20%. That is, only two out of every ten young Canaries work.
Surviving the blow of two economic crises without help from the bureaucracy
Here the virus has had a lot to do with it. Before the COVID crisis broke out, the youth unemployment figure in the Islands was 35.64% (last quarter of 2019), the lowest record since 2008 (28.70%). During the years of the Great Recession, the indices reached over 60% on more than one occasion, and in the Canary Islands there was a brain drain considerable that resonates with force again this 2020. Even in the context of the largest pandemic in a century.
One of the names behind the data is Texi González. Graduated from Journalism in 2018, she says she has been “through all kinds of jobs, but always with terrible conditions.” “I have put resumes in almost all the businesses in my town, I have called televisions and radios, I have downloaded multiple mobile applications to find work and I have asked for help even through social networks, but it does not work,” he adds. He currently works four hours a week in a restaurant and is preparing for the postal examinations, one of the only opportunities that guarantees him “to get a long-term job.”
“I feel frustrated, so much studying and making an effort throughout your life so that when you go out to work they don’t give you the opportunity to start is quite frustrating,” she says. “Now I just think about being able to save a little on the jobs I get and go find a future.”
Another of the girls who has considered the idea of flying abroad is Indira Santana. She finished Social Work last year, took a waitress course and is currently studying Psychology through the National Distance Education University (UNED). “It is assumed,” he explains, “that I am unemployed to work from what I have studied, and also as a youth guarantee, a promotion program to find employment when I am young. But they have not called me. I once received unemployment benefits an email for a job in jail, but that is seen by the experience you have and the courses you have taken, and I stayed in fifth place. They didn’t catch me. ”
Indira argues that inactivity is affecting her to the point of feeling “useless at work and socially”. Her mother works in the tourism sector and only the money that she earns enters the house. Now he has signed up for a Professional Training course in web application development because “this does have a future.” “I feel that young people are not valued. We are the future of this society and we will not be given a job until we are 30. Before I had never considered leaving Spain. But lately I have.”
In September, the Canary Islands registered 5,399 new employment contracts for people between 20 and 24 years old. Of all of them, only 569 were permanent, 10.5%. The rest, temporary. And there the duration can vary. A year or a month, as happened to Yousef: “My first job was in a pizzeria. I worked on weekends and had a 24-hour shift. At the end of the fourth week they fired me without warning. They told me they were in low season, and they paid me 100 euros. I spoke with the boss and she told me that the first two weeks had been training. But they didn’t tell me about that. As I was young, I didn’t claim. ”
Yousef studies Medicine. She is in her sixth year, and notes that she has worked twice in her life despite searching for something every summer. He regrets that they do not call him, that he insists but cannot find a job. And he criticizes the schedule of most of the offers. “In other countries work is adapted to you and here it is the other way around, and that they give up on your career or whatever,” he concludes.
The problems to become independent
Without work, the simple idea of emancipation is already a chimera. There are those who neither conceive it nor see it too far. According to him latest report of the Emancipation Observatory of the Youth Council in Spain, only 15.6% of young people between 16 and 29 years old have become independent. Some cannot due to lack of employment. Others stay away for the salary they receive. To put it in context, the average salary of those under 25 in the Canary Islands is 12,182 gross annual euros. Now, the average rental price in the Archipelago is 769 euros for an 80 square meter apartment, according to the study Cumulative variation of housing in Spainby Fotocasa. That is to say, doing calculations, it would be necessary to invest 75% of the payroll in the rent of the home. Ideally, it would be 30%, but for this they would have to charge double.
Nerea is 25 years old, about to turn 26. She graduated in Primary Education from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 2016. She says that until last year she had not had contact with the profession for which she was trained. He comments that in the public sector, after 10 years without calling for competitive examinations, the chances before some 6,000 candidates were not “exactly fair.” For the private sector there is no solution either “unless you know someone”. Your situation these months could improve due to the wide demand in schools and institutes that this course is having. The centers need to unfold the teaching staff. Nerea maintains that she has seen offers from private schools, but has had no luck so far.
Cristina, for her part, has been hired. She works in a center in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria as an English teacher. He graduated in English Philology in full expansion of the economic crisis, a little more than seven years ago. He had to go to England and Poland to gain experience. But despite having linked several jobs, he assures that at no time has he thought about becoming independent. “On a professional level I have been lucky, but the balance becomes unbalanced when you do not have the opportunity to leave your parents’ house. The apartments are very expensive, a study can cost you 550 euros. Now I see that yes, my salary is fine , but nothing has changed. ” According to the Fotocasa report, the rent in the capital of Gran Canaria has grown by 35% in the last five years. “One wants to grow in many aspects and does not have the opportunity”, emphasizes Cristina.
Jesús, who at the age of 22 had been working as a waiter for almost three years, was stopped just before the pandemic. He has the ESO and a level 2 certificate of professionalism in bar and cafeteria. He writes on WhatsApp that he spent up to two months to receive unemployment benefit and that he has not found a job since February. Hotels and restaurants have been the services hardest hit by the virus. “Currently I live with my mother, and between her humble salary and what I earn from unemployment, we share the expenses of the house,” he explains. “While I was working, I had the desire to emancipate myself and live alone or share a flat, but the way things are now, that idea is already quite far away.”
By profession: overqualified
Cristian (not his real name) graduated as a social worker in 2019. At 26, he has been looking for a job for a long time. Whatever. But on several occasions you have come across the same message: “You are overqualified for this job.” He claims that he is in “limbo” because he does not have enough experience to apply for job offers in his profession (most demand between 2 and 3 years of experience), and he is not accepted in any other position. “The main feeling I have is frustration. I have been forced to make another false CV where it only appears that I have a high school degree to see if my luck changes.”