Rafael Puyol. Vicepresident. IE Foundation
30 April 2013
As high unemployment continues to plague younger generations, it would appear that there is no easy solution. Young people need to offset the damage by going back to the classroom in order to be well prepared for when recovery comes.
Nearly everyone knows that neets are young people of some 18 to 24 years old that are not in employment, education or training. The term conjures up a picture of apathy, indolence or lack of initiative that leads the youngsters in question to despair. Few people aim to become neets. For most, it is a condition that occurs when they believe there is no work out there for them and so they just don’t look for any, nor do they believe that studying will make them any better off. There are neets in every country in our socio-economic environment, but Spain, together with Bulgaria, Italy, Greece and Ireland has one of the highest levels in the EU (around 23%, or 800,000 neets).
The crisis has hit Spain’s young people especially hard. The fact that not even one in two can find work is cause for great concern. Working is impossible for most, quite simply not an option, to the extent that a significant reduction in neets in terms of work is not going to happen in the short term. But if we can, we should promote and incentivize them to go back to the classroom. In fact it would appear that this is starting to happen if enrolment numbers in recent years are anything to go by.
Our main objective should be to overcome the crisis. In order to achieve this Spain is going to need more and better prepared young professionals, which will not be easy given the fall in birth rate.
Like any other time of crisis, it is also a time of opportunity. The greatest opportunity right now is to gain an education. Hence, neets should go back to school, or technical college, or university. And not only because a better education makes them more employable, but also because the future work market needs them.