November 30, 2011
Amongst the terrible economic gloom and doom of the last few days has come this news about rising unemployment in the eurozone.
It never rains…
One number really stood out for me, “Youth unemployment in Spain rose to 48.9%.” My goodness that is grim. There must be lots of Spaniards in their late teens and early twenties that literally don’t know anyone of their own age with a job. That is – and ought to be – frightening for us all.
The oft-used phrases such as ‘lost generation’ do not even come close to what is happening.
I have heard and read many times in recent months about the ‘skills mismatch’ – there are jobs out there, but lots of young people simply do not have the kinds of skills that employers are looking for.
Education and training often finds it’s way into the debates about innovation policy, but this runs much deeper. This is not about seeding future ideas and products, this is about the future functioning of entire economies.
Because the debate started by Lisbon Council is about the super-skilled in the workforce that can create their own jobs and companies from anywhere using technology. For these people, there is virtually no end to the opportunities afforded by technology and a global marketplace – in direct contrast to the currently unemployed.
So it seems particularly well timed that the run up has begun to the European Commission’s e-Skills week (background info here). Since it is almost impossible to hold down any job these days without being computer literate (at a minimum), it would seem that this is something to be heavily promoted. Not for political or policy reasons, but pragmatically because Europeans really need to upgrade their skills and marketability in a jobs market that is both competitive and depressed.
The potential risks to us all of having an entire generation that is unemployable in the future ought to be shocking. Everything could be at stake and in flux – civil disobedience, falling tax revenues, rising welfare payments, exacerbating the coming pensions crisis, crime levels and more that I dare not think about.
The skills and unemployment crisis currently afflicting Europe’s young people needs our best attention.financialguy