The 2011/12/19 at 06:45
Valérie Demon, in Madrid
Spain is decidedly notching up record statistics. With an unemployment rate of over 20% and almost 48% of young people under 25 years without work, Spain is also the country with the highest number of overqualified persons in Europe. In this way, 31% of workers aged between 25 and 34 have a level of training higher than that required for their current job, whereas the European average is around 19% according to data corresponding to 2008 provided by Eurostat, the European statistics office. This new piece of information confirms Spain’s structural problems. While university training has climbed vertiginously in recent years, positions on offer and the structure of industrial fabric have not developed at the same speed. 39% of Spain’s young people have university degrees, compared with the European average of 34%. “I have training as a sociologist, postgraduate diplomas, and despite this, I have often held jobs that are barely remunerated,” indicates Javier, 28 years old and unemployed, who took part in the Indignant movement in Spain in May 2011.
“Job offers require more and more qualifications.” On the other end of the scale to overqualification, Spain must also face school dropout levels (after 16 years) that are almost 30%. This dramatic phenomenon has increased with growth in the past years and the real-estate boom: many young people thus preferred to work in construction rather than earning diplomas. On the other hand, there is now a shortage of medium-level graduates. “We need a significant number of technicians with intermediary diplomas,” explains Luis Castillejo, Head of public education and professional training at the Workers’ Commissions union. Despite growth in recent years, Spain has not managed to narrow the gap between overqualified graduates and a productive model.
“Almost 47% of graduates have jobs lower than their training level, compared with an average of 34% in Europe and we have not lowered this gap since the mid-1990s. Part of the despair of these graduates more highly trained than their bosses (and their parents) has been expressed by the Indignant movement,” recalls Florentino Felgueroso, Chair of Human Capital at the Foundation of Applied Economic Studies (FEDEAR). Spain lags behind with a constant duality of highly trained young people on low salaries holding temporary position after temporary position, and older workers with heavily protected contracts. “This reality is not easy to change, for the best protected on the job market are also those who have power in the unions,” declares this researcher. As a result, many qualified young people are opting for emigration. The phenomenon is not yet massive in Spain, but little by little, thousands are making the plunge due to a lack of prospects within the country.