August 10, 2012
Amongst other hot topics pertaining the debate over the future of Eurozone, there is one rarely mentioned in the media analyses: Does the current conditions in Eurozone gradually instill a strong generational conflict between older and young people that desire to take up the train of advancement?
People who were gathered at the streets these two years in Madrid and Athens were at their majority below 35 years old. It is indeed the generation that comes up to undertake the future in its hands. From businesses to politics, and from mainstream media to creative marketing breakthroughs, older people still dominate and determine global decisions, with few young people comparatively being in the center of pioneering actions and the shaping of global economy, politics, and business. Let’s see some enlighting facts:
1. The employment market collapse is primarily hitting the young generation, with Greeece and Spain having been most affected recently, as almost the half of those under 25 years old are unemployed -which is actually twice the rate of middle-age and old unemployed workers.
2. Brain drain (i.e. human capital outflows expressed through large-scale emigration) is flourishing in Europe, as unemployment and the lack of insurance benefits turn to be a permanent condition in the market status quo. Nonetheless, the new waves of emigration are not at all similar to the previous ones in the past decades, as international markets have major difficulties in absorbing the newly-arrived workforce.
3. In politics, we still observe that young people while being politically activated in a dynamic manner, they affront serious obstacles in getting into real politics as older ones do not give trust to them. Consequently, young resort to political blogging, manifesting, and finally in some cases to rioting as their demands and needs are not heard.
4. In business, the start-up entrepreneurship culture is not well-established in Europe yet. In the contrary we see other economies in the world, as for instance in Israel, that have a well-organised system of evaluating and financing bright ideas by giving young people the chance and the possibility to realize their business dreams. In addition to that, even entry-level job openings in Europe are diminishing dramatically, and in cases where this is not the rule there is a widespread substitute of job which is called “internship” where young are entering the job market with short-term unpaid contracts, not for contributing and getting experience from that, but for being occupied in trivial daily tasks. In other words, internship provides companies with a double-oriented goal: restraining young and educated people from producing while temporarily decreasing unemployment rates in a literally artificial manner.
These things considered, young people are only rebelling in streets and protesting without gaining something in hand. In this respect, and lacking their own means, they are many times obliged to live with their parents -a trend that mathematically makes revolting less necessary long-term.
What is more, political parties do not develop mechanisms of workforce absorption, and when this happens patronism is thriving. Young political groups are commonly used for merely political and partisan purposes in order to vote for their party and afterwards are thrown into complete stagnation waiting for the next pre-electoral period to rise their voice again. This cannot work and what is left is a growing feeling of disuse and wasteness.
After all, history is resurrecting in a definite manner. The 1960s slogan against everyone above 30 year-old (i.e. “Trust no one over 30!”), while being excessive, it is coming again into surface. Young people need a hope, and this comes with giving them work, not with promises.Dimitris Rapidis