Young Spaniards are motivated and want to work, but they need opportunities to show their skills.
Once upon a time, a college degree was the ultimate passport to a better life. It was the key to a higher standard of living, a home of your own, and a vibrant professional life.
After spending thousands of euros — and years of their lives — on college educations, many of Spain’s young people feel cheated. European statistical agency Eurostat reports that Spain’s youth unemployment rate stood at 49.3 percent in May 2015, an improvement from its July 2014 rate: 54 percent.
While the unemployment landscape is showing signs of progress, Spain is experiencing an overall unemployment rate of 26 percent. Add Spaniards who are under 25 into the mix, and that percentage more than doubles the national average.
As a Spanish businessman, I feel a calling to help disillusioned Spanish Millennials. Spain’s young people are bright, motivated, and devoted to their homeland. It’s up to us to help them make their mark.
Spanish Millennials Struggle to Find Employment
Twenty-six-year-old Marta Alba is a perfect example of how it’s possible — even likely — for young Spaniards to do everything right and still struggle to find jobs. For five years, she studied to become a registered nurse. Last year, she lost her part-time job, and her unemployment benefits won’t last.
Marta’s nursing school peers’ stories illustrate a sobering reality: Only two of 100 students in her graduating class managed to land jobs in their chosen fields.
Javier Díaz-Giménez, an economist at IESE Business School in Madrid, believes it’s worse to be a young college grad in Spain today than it was 10 years ago.
Finding Work Abroad
Because Spanish Millennials feel failed by their home economy, more are choosing to move abroad. Cristina Arias, a 27-year-old college grad from Galicia, is one of them. When faced with the choice of accepting a low-paying job or a job abroad, Cristina knew leaving Spain was the most prudent decision.
Spanish Business Leaders Can Help
It’s up to us — Spain’s preeminent businesspeople — to lend help to Spanish Millennials. Young Spaniards are motivated and want to work, but they need opportunities to show their skills.
Here are four ways we can help:
1. Support International Agreements
In May, Fátima Báñez — Spain’s employment minister — reached an agreement with her German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen. In the deal, Germany promised to offer 5,000 apprenticeships per year to young, unemployed Spaniards.
This agreement is a great start, but it’s not enough. Far more than 5,000 young Spaniards are struggling every year. It’s up to us to reach out to our connections — at home and abroad — and demonstrate the value of hardworking Spanish Millennials.
2. Make Long-Term Commitments
Spain’s short-term, low-paying jobs have become the norm for young people fortunate enough to find work. This isn’t a sustainable business model for Spain’s next generation. Spanish business leaders need to make long-term commitments to employees; offering short-term contracts and unpaid internships is not enough. Only when Spain’s young people feel financially secure can they begin to take the reins of the business world.
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