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10 European Countries with the Worst Youth Employment Prospects
Unemployment among youths has become one of the worst problems in Europe and this is one problem that could only get worse in the future.
Youths, people between 16 and 25, are struggling to find work after they finish their education. The numbers are alarming, with youth unemployment rates often going above 30%. This means that more than one third of young people who are actively seeking a job can’t find one, and it is a sign of a not so bright future ahead of Europe.
10. Portugal – 31.8%
Even though the situation in Portugal has got slightly better in the last couple of years, the unemployment rates among youths are still a serious issue. While people all around the country are either losing their jobs or being forced to work more hours for same wages, young people are facing something even more frustrating, they can’t seem to even get a job.
More than one third of youths is now protesting due to this terrible situation and are threatening to leave the country if something doesn’t change soon. The main problem is that Portugal is producing young professionals fresh out of college who can’t put their knowledge and skills to use in any way.
This is why Portugal is facing major brain drain which means that young people are forced to leave the country and seek employment somewhere abroad. As one Portuguese journalist said: “It’s not wanting to work outside Portugal; it’s needing to work outside Portugal.”
They are moving away not to earn incredible amounts of money, but to have a normal life; something their own country cannot provide for them. Even with jobs, they would have to live on minimal salaries and struggle to start their own families. And while finding work outside of their country isn’t so easy either, they see it as their only option.
9. Cyprus – 32.6%
Cyprus has suffered a lot in the economic crisis in 2008. Ever since then, youth unemployment rates have increased from 9% to over 40%. Luckily, the numbers are slightly lower now, but they are still some of the worst ones in Europe.
Not only is the unemployment rate among youths so severe, the situation in Cyprus is actually quite intriguing – there are more young unemployed people among graduates than among people with lower education.
The problem is simple, according to the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, there is a mismatch between skills that young people offer and skills that are needed on the market. She claims that the situation will get better if the system of education in Cyprus is improved and adjusted to the vacancies that exist in Europe.
And indeed, in 2013, Cyprus received 11 million euros for this cause. The money was to be used for apprenticeships and work placement. The Erasmus+ program has also helped Cyprus a lot, providing 15,000 students with a chance to study abroad and come back with more experience, self-confidence and appeal to the employers. However, Cyprus still has a long way to go in order to overcome this burning issue.
8. Croatia – 43.5%
In 2013, Croatia hit a record when it comes to youth unemployment rates with 51.6%. Luckily, since then the EU has invested some 35 million euros to aid this country. The results are visible, and the unemployment rate has indeed lowered since 2014, but Croatia is far from escaping this issue so fast. The youths in Croatia are losing all faith in finding a job after college which ruins their motivation.
Before even finishing their studies, young Croatian students are prepared to go back to their parents and depend on their income. To make matters worse, the authorities are denying this problem. In 2013, when the statistics were at their highest, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović shockingly stated that he didn’t really agree with the Eurostat numbers. He admitted that the rate was higher than the European average but he said the numbers are “misleading” and “inaccurate”.
We are not sure whether the youth of Croatia would agree with him. In any case, Croatia has dropped on the list of the countries with the worst youth unemployment rates and is moving towards better days even though it is still very high on the list when it comes to EU countries only.
Moreover, the youths’ patience is running out and they highly doubt the country will manage to keep the improvements accomplished with EU funds.
7. Italy – 44.2%
The situation with youth unemployment in Italy is getting worse every month. Since the numbers started rising in 2009, Italy has had a steady increase of unemployment rates, but this year it has reached a new record. According to the studies, it would take Italy about 20 years to recover if it started now, which is very unlikely considering the situation.
Young people are in the state of despair, they are graduating from high school and university only to be left out on the street. Not to mention those that are lucky enough to have a job but are now losing their jobs because more and more companies are laying people off due to financial problems.
One of the biggest problems here is the type of contracts young Italian workers get. They sign only temporary contracts and are the first to go when the company hits a bump and starts firing employees. It is very difficult for youths in Italy to get a permanent contract and secure their position at a company.
You can imagine how angry and bitter young people in Italy are and how little trust in their system they have. This is what drives them away to try to find better life abroad. More than 400,000 young people have left Italy in the last decade, fed up with the poor conditions in their own country.
6. Montenegro – 48.4%
Similarly to Cyprus and Croatia, Montenegro’s biggest problems are skillful and highly educated young people with no hope of employment. Every year, more and more young people opt to attend universities but after finishing their studies, they can’t find jobs.
This happens because there are more highly educated young people than there is a real demand for them. Furthermore, there is a discrepancy between the actual skills required on the labor market, and the skills they gain through education.
Young people in Montenegro are in despair, because even while they are still in school, they know what they can expect when they graduate from college. Because of this, there have been several initiatives and projects by youths to try to change the situation and improve their chances.
The most common propositions involved entrepreneurship, which showed that in such cruel conditions on the labor market, youths are ready to take matters into their own hands and start their own businesses. But even for that, they would still have to learn a lot and invest a lot in their further development because the country is not able to help. They need to learn applicable skills and earn practical experience before even venturing into a business. Others, on the other hand, just choose to leave Montenegro and find their happiness somewhere else.
5. Spain – 49.2%
Spain has been battling unemployment for years now and has been one of the worst EU countries when it comes to this issue. Even though the figures show that the situation has slightly improved, the numbers are still dangerously close to 50%. This means that almost half of the people who are 25 or younger can’t find a job in Spain.
Interestingly for this country, before the economic crisis, young people could often find work even without higher education. They would drop out of school and get a job that didn’t require any particular skills but was paid well.
However, today, the situation has completely reversed. Now, Spain has more educated young people than it can employ and they are often “overskilled”, that is, vocational education degrees are much less common among youths.
The situation was pretty critical in 2013, when no signs of improvement were visible even after receiving (and spending) 41 billion Euros of EU aid during the crisis. This year, the numbers are indeed lower than ever, but it should be taken into consideration that elections are being held at the end of the year, so the improvement could only be temporary. It remains to be seen next year.
2. Greece – 53.2%
When it comes to the EU, Greece is the country with the worst youth unemployment rate. In fact, the situation in this country is so severe that Greece became the first country ever to lose the status of a developing country to an emerging country.
Young people entering the labor market have little hope they would be able to find work, and the future doesn’t look promising either. The scary fact is that people who are unable to find employment or lose their job have a pretty good chance to stay out of work permanently. While they try not to give up on their country it’s getting harder with every new day without a job.
They are forced to return to their parents who are struggling as it is. And recently, more and more of young people are opting to leave the country to find work somewhere else. Greece tried to take action and improve young people’s chances by doing a very controversial thing.
The government has cut minimum salaries for everyone younger than 25 several times in order to make them more appealing to the employers. However, this has created another serious problem of youths working for significantly less money than they deserve. Even though there has been some improvement in the last two years, Greece’s situation doesn’t look good at all.
1. Bosnia and Herzegovina – 60.4%
The absolute worst situation in Europe is happening in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And while youth unemployment rates in other countries in the top hover around 50%, Bosnia surpassed that number a long time ago and is now at striking 60%.
Young people in this country are being educated for positions that don’t exist, that is, more professionals are being produced than there are jobs for them in certain areas. Aside from that, one of the biggest problems is the system of education which fails to prepare the students for actual situations on the labor market.
Not only is there a mismatch between supply and demand of skills, but also between theoretical knowledge students gain in college and practical knowledge they actually need. And while youths in Bosnia and Herzegovina are more pessimistic every day and many of them try to escape the situation by leaving the country, some still dream a better future.
The government started a campaign which invited young people to submit papers in the Tackling Youth Unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina Youth Essay Contest. The idea was to collect suggestions from the very people affected the most by the situation and to tackle the problem once and for all. Bosnia and Herzegovina will need to put a lot of effort and work into solving this issue and a lot of time will have to pass until any results are visible.