Fri, Oct 26, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Europe paying price for lost generation of unemployed youth

By Shiv Malik  /  The Guardian, LONDON

“We are failing in our social contract,” he said. “We are not giving option or opportunity to those who have invested in their human capital ... [and] if we don’t address these issues ... soon social and political tensions will increase.”

Scarpetta added: “The parallel in the Maghreb region is telling because there there was in some cases significant economic growth, with major investment in education. So the generation of young people who were in education were much better trained than the previous generation and yet there were no jobs waiting for them.”

“The only jobs were low paid and service sector jobs. That was one of the major triggers, that of political social unrest, that then led to the revolutions in those countries. I don’t think we are there in Europe, but some dissatisfaction, and with our economic model, is building up,” he said.

While tertiary education is still a shield against unemployment, Mascherini said his team discovered that 30 percent of Greek graduates were NEETs. In Italy, it was 20 percent — twice the EU average.

Paul Gregg, professor of economic and social policy at Bath University in southwest England and an expert in the scarring effects of long-term unemployment, said that according to his own study in the UK, the EU report’s stated annual costs could rise significantly.

“For young people, the time when you’re gaining the experience and skills which lead to rapid advancements in your earning potential really focuses between 18 and 30,” he said.

“[So] if you’re out of work for a year or so, what you’re doing is forgoing that experience, so you are permanently delayed. When people are in their 30s, they don’t catch back up [with peers] who don’t have that absence from the world of work,” he said.

Peter Matjasic, president of the European Youth Forum, the representative body of more than 90 national youth councils and international youth NGOs, said: “The Nobel committee talk of the success of the ‘European dream’ and European leaders this week spoke about strengthening it, but without investing in youth now, it is in danger of becoming a lost dream.”

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