“European Dream” Is out of Reach for Current Generation

We’ve all been aware of the un and under-employment of recent college grads in Spain and Greece whose unemployment rates for people ages 15-24 is staggering at 55% and 58%.  But what about the impact of the economic crisis in Europe upon the personal dreams and aspirations of college-age youth and recent graduates?  This story in the NY Times paints a very bleak and sad picture:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/world/europe/youth-unemployement-in-europe.html?_r=0.

“Dozens of interviews with young people around the Continent reveal a creeping realization that the European dream their parents enjoyed is out of reach. It is not that Europe will never recover, but that the era of recession and austerity has persisted for so long that new growth, when it comes, will be enjoyed by the next generation, leaving this one out.”

The major shift in the workforce which is discussed has to do with employers moving away from hiring on a full-time basis to one where most prefer short-term contracts. This leaves little room for grads to pursue their careers within a company when the only work available pushes them into a cycle of short-term and low paying jobs without any prospect for advancement.  Employers [with perhaps the exception being those based in Germany or Austria whose unemployment rates for those between 15-24 are only at 8% and 9%, respectively] cannot afford to hire full-time employees for fear of absorbing Europe’s generous labor benefit packages.

The article also illustrates the tremendous pain which grads suffer as they are forced to move away from their homes and families to seek employment in another country.  Although there is much written about greater workforce “mobility” among youths in Europe, the reality of the forced migration of young and well educated talent seeking job offers – for low wages – has disrupted the lives of thousands of youths and their families.  The story states that Spain has lost something like 100,000 university graduates and hundreds of thousands have moved to Germany, Britain and the Nordic states looking for work in engineering, science and medicine.

This chaos and disruption in the lives of so many young adults throughout Europe has untold consequences. Perhaps it will mean the delayed pursuit of careers and the resulting loss in wages along with a lack of skilled labor in important professional roles for many years to come.

We need to pay attention to what is happening to this current generation of students in Europe.  The impact will be felt in our own society and global businesses.



4 Comments on ““European Dream” Is out of Reach for Current Generation

  1. Good point Andrew. The implications for years to come of so much educated talent leaving their home country for employment elsewhere is hard to imagine. By the time their home country economies come back to a more “normal” state, youths who have emigrated for work will have established lives elsewhere – and the brain drain will perhaps be fixed in place (until such time as this population decides to return home – which took several decades, for example, in the U.S. before Indo-Americans were ready to re-join the Indian economy).

  2. Pingback: Youth Student Graduate Employment in Europe | AIEC QUEST Australian International Education

  3. I would not blame “social Darwinism” but advantages such as overly generous pension schemes etc. going to older generations in good times, but now unaffordable for all, in addition to credit bingeing leaving many in debt.

    With ageing populations in the developed and less developed world emerging, they are a powerful, and conservative, voting block. While they continue to vote, they will take priority over younger generations.

    How will younger generations react? Like Germany and Austria take technical training and occupations more seriously, meaning less university enrolments, and more ‘brain drain’ through migration and mobility……

    However, all may not be lost as western (permanent) populations both decline and age, so opportunities for career or occupation entry, and advancement may in fact accelerate (compared to the past).

  4. It is sad to see the Europe that I have lived in, known, and loved many periods of my life, and the youth caught up in this moment in history, subject to forces in globalization which are more reflective of what I see as a global trend towards Social Darwinism. Such forces may have been born as a consequence of colonialism and years of “cheap labor” in developing countries, along with other contemporary economic factors which are well-documented, though young people had nothing directly to do with such history. You have to hand it to youth in Europe, who are fighting back via largely non-violent protests as best they can against an economic reality which I believe has long-term consequences worldwide. I grew up in a world where I saw this coming, and developing skills as a freelancer was/is necessary though difficult. But being forced out of one’s home and country takes the stakes one step further, is tragic, and does not bode well for the future of the majority of people and their unique cultures.

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