Youth unemployment: true stories

In 2011, The BBC documented the plight of Natalia Santos, an unemployed Portuguese female struggling to find work. She had sent her resume to 300 schools, in hopes of a teaching position. And after 300 rejections, Natalia was still looking for employment.

In 2013, The Economist highlighted the struggles of 21-year-old Helder Pereira to find work. A high school dropout living in a suburb of Paris, Pereira’s brief work experience consisted of a four-month stint working at a building construction site. His plight to find work was not singular; over 40% of youth in his area were also unemployed.

The implications of “Generation Jobless” are clear. Social unrest, community instability, increased crime rates. What have the experts recommended to curb this troubling trend?

An understanding of the epidemic is key. A good starting point to address these issues is to recall why youth unemployment rates tend to be higher than adult rates (Blanchflower and Bell, 2011).
From the demand side, it can be argued that:  ~ Youths often find themselves in an experience trap, whereby employers require experienced workers, so that young people are placed at the back of the queue and cannot increase their own experience.

Proposals for fiscal policies and government work initiatives are on the table. But processing these initiatives can take years, and get bogged down in red tape.

What can be done NOW? Today, tomorrow, next week?

Basic collaborations can be key. Companies supporting initiatives to give youth needed skills – trainings, as well as soft skills – can ease the tension and provide hope. Youth collaboration as well can fit a shorter time-frame set of needs. Successfully employed job holders mentoring youth can unlock potential and give much-needed insights into the job market.

Though the issue seems daunting and paralyzing, even a small- or mid-sized company or individual can contribute to the solution.

Written by Jessica Gaines on behalf of CircularSociety AG

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