Cristina Gallach (on the left in the image), High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda of the Government of Spain

– Young people have better qualifications; however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality jobs.

– I like how the BYEF has addressed the access of young people to jobs. They did so from two levels. From a strategic level, the change that is taking place in our society, and from the need to generate intergenerational discussions between the older and younger generations. In the end, it is not a zero-sum issue.

– Do you see any solution?

– We need to connect the job market, the supply and the demand better. You do this by more practical connections and getting down to specifics (especially to the cities, the autonomous communities), the mechanisms that make these connections possible. We have seen universities here that have employment centres, public offices that link employment programmes to individuals, to students who are finishing at vocational training centres. I think this is the way to go; after all, we live in a super-connected society but there is a lack of connection at key moments. We also found that, for example, the figures for the Basque Country are better; probably because more active policies have been undertaken and businesses have understood the need for these active policies. Another interesting idea was that we are never going to be able to provide the ideal training for future jobs and, therefore, we must provide a type of training that enables people to adapt. This idea that we are training people for jobs that do not exist, refers to people that will be able to adapt to these future jobs thanks to the training they receive. Because we can only anticipate things to a certain point. It is true that we shall be needing many people on the ground who are good at mathematics, programming, because we are heading for an increasingly automated society, but we shall also be needing people trained in looking after others. 

– This summer, you said that our wage levels are so tight that there is a group of the population at risk of becoming excluded. How can we combat inequality?

– Mainly by revealing the problem because if you have a problem that isn’t visible, you can’t apply metrics and you don’t know if what you are doing is working. We also need joint measures with the rest of the autonomous communities, such as grants for the most disadvantaged members of society. Then, there are other specific measures, among which is one that is still to be approved and that we hope will be approved, which is increasing the minimum wage, then a number of exemptions for people who are really at the end of their tether. Global actions against poverty and exclusion.

A network of actions

– Imagine the unemployment rate drops. What do we do about the precarious conditions affecting young people? Could you define what a “decent job” is?

– We are in a situation in which Spain has been growing economically in recent years but the unemployment rate is not falling. Therefore, we need a whole range of measures (budgetary, employment, housing and education), all part of a network of actions to help people who are excluded. It is not about one measure only; we need a pack of measures and, above all, a more inclusive idea of politics. That has to include everything from salaries to social protection, health and education. Another very important measure has to do with access to universal health care; we now have it again but there was a time when this was not the case. 

– What can we expect in 2030 regarding youth employment?

– The framework we are using as a guideline is 2030, a strategic framework shared by all countries; however, the effectiveness of having this framework is based on specific actions. This requires that all the central, regional and local public administrations, all economic agents (the private sector, NGOs, universities…) assume their responsibilities in this project and learn to work as part of a network, learn to be connected. Because if that networking is not achieved, we shall carry on as we are now, in silos, and there will be no chance of multiplying the positive things that are happening and, therefore, we shall not make any progress.