Spain’s ’Lost Generation’ still looking for jobs

By: Kristina Blockx

The wounds are starting to heal after the financial crisis hit Spain at full strength in 2008. In the meantime four out of ten young people are still unemployed and struggling to enter the labour market. The unqualified youngsters are being left behind.

 The youth in Spain is still struggling with the after-effects of the financial crisis of 2008. Even though the Spanish government recently announced that the unemployment rate for the first time in seven years has dropped below 20 percent, the labour market is still widely affected. Spain has the second highest unemployment rate in the European Union right after Greece. Among people under the age of 25 it is as high as 43,6 percent.

“The reason why Spain has such a high rate of unemployment is because the economy in the Eurozone is still quite bad,” says Roberto Gelado, who is a coordinator at San Pablo University in Madrid. “It is not as bad as it was a couple of years ago, but it is still bad. The sectors that suffer the most are the sectors on which our economy is sustained. We are way too focused on tourism and construction, which are both fragile sectors that can cut down if the economic situation is not going well.”.


Source: Statista 2017.

A labour market without mobility

The young people of today in Spain are also known as the ‘lost generation’. According to Gelado the reasons why the young people are left jobless are manyfold. “The young Spanish people are really struggling to enter the labour market. The mobility within the market is rigid. It is practically non-existing. That makes it very difficult for newcomers to get onto the labour market. When people are not abandoning a job, it makes it even harder to get a job with good conditions,” explains Gelado, who is worried about the consequences of the current situation.

“The requirements to enter the labour market are getting higher and higher. Most of them are based on experience, which is exactly what the young people don’t have. So the quick option they find is to go and get some experience in a more flexible environment. That is why so many young people are moving away to the UK,” elaborates Gelado.

He adds that another reason for the high unemployment rate is that the young people are not leaving the home of their parents at a young age. This is a tendency that has increased during the crisis years, but it is also a cultural thing.

No qualifications, no job

Like in many other situations, the people who are suffering the most are the ones without education. The moment the labour market became more rigid, some people found themselves without qualification, without an education, without a job.

“The unqualified people are struggling the most to get a job. In the good economic times, there were a lot of people working in bars and restaurants. They were even hiring young people without any experience at all,” says Gelado.

“In the current situation there are not as many under qualified jobs available and since the qualified people are also struggling, they usually find a job below their qualifications. And then there are no jobs left for the unqualified people,” explains Gelado.