European youth hit hard by crisis

Published on WSWS, by Elisabeth Zimmermann, Sept. 22, 2010.

In August the International Labor Organization (ILO) published a paper detailing the initial impact of the international economic crisis on the younger generation. The paper concludes that youth unemployment has reached record heights. Worldwide a total of 81 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are now officially unemployed. This represents an increase of nearly ten percent, or 7.8 million youth, since the end of 2007.

The ILO report indicates that global unemployment of young people rose from 11.9 percent of total unemployment at the end of 2007 to 13 percent at the end of 2009. This is the steepest rise over a short period ever recorded. 

Young people are particularly hard hit in southern and eastern Europe, where unemployment rates for young people have risen particularly dramatically. Nearly half of the eight million young people who have joined the ranks of the unemployed since the outbreak of the economic crisis in 2007 come from these two regions … //

… The latest figures regarding youth unemployment tend to refute the findings of a recent Shell study that concluded that a majority of German youth regard their future optimistically despite the economic crisis.

However, even the Shell report reveals that youth feel differently about the future depending on their social circumstances. In fact, only 40 percent of the young people from a socially disadvantaged background view their future prospects positively. “The gap between the social layers is not new, but it is deepening”, commented the director of the Shell study, Mathias Albert. In addition, 10 to 15 percent of young people have completely cut themselves off from society.

The Frankfurter Rundschau concludes in its September 15 edition, “The many positive messages contained in the Shell study are overshadowed by the insights into the lives and feelings of those 10 to 15 percent of the same generation, who already as school pupils stood on the losing side. Around 70 percent of the socially disadvantaged have a bleak view of the future. Only 40 percent believe they will be able to fulfil their vocational desires. These young people are not notorious doom-mongers, but rather pessimists from experience”.

There has also been a pronounced increase in the number of short-term and precarious positions in academic and scientific fields. In the past 10 to 15 years there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of full-time jobs in these fields. This also applies to professorships. In 1998, just 4.8 percent of full-time employed professors had a short-term contract. Ten years later this figure stood at 16.2 percent. Amongst scientific and artistic staff, which are recording the largest levels of growth, only one in four has a full-time contract … (full text).

The author also recommends: Global youth unemployment reaches record levels, August 31, 2010.

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