The employment experiences in Hungary and Poland are highlighted in the seminar on youth employment organized by the University of León

The Law and Labour Science Schools of the University of León organized a workshop under the slogan ‘Youth Employment. A Challenge for Europe’ in late October, in which experts from a number of countries outlined the actions being implemented to promote employment opportunities among young people. The event, which was attended by a hundred Graduate, Master and Doctorate students, researchers and even professors as well as high school students, is part of a research project on employment initiated two years ago and financed by the Ministry in which the universities of Leon, Cantabria and Valladolid address this issue from three different perspectives: youth, the elderly and entrepreneurship.

The Professor of Labour Law at the University of León and member of the organizing committee, Juan José Fernández, emphasized that, during the event, “we discussed problems that are common throughout Europe and practically the entire world and we were able to see to what extent we have used our imagination to find solutions, because we are virtually innovating”. Among all the cases put forward, this professor was especially interested in two initiatives developed in Hungary and Poland, which in his view, can be used in Spain. In the case of Hungary, more than 120,000 students belong to school cooperatives that allow them to combine study and work with high levels of flexibility. “Here, we have the possibility of companies of students under the Entrepreneurship Law, but it is not working currently and the future does not look good either”, he says. The Hungarian professors, György Kiss and Attila Kun also explained the features of the youth employment regulatory framework in their country.

Scholarships linked to employment

With regard to the Polish case, where people can start working at the age of 15, the Talent Initiative Programme connects a network of public universities with several multinational corporations that offer the most brilliant students scholarships to complete their studies in the company’s country of origin. The training also includes a two to three year working relationship. “We are talking about a plan that is well organised, which seeks to find the best outcome outside of Poland, with a volume of between 50,000 and 60,000 young people in addition to plans to return. This is a very interesting student mobility programme; in Spain, we are still using the Erasmus programme and once you finish your studies you’re on your own”, says Fernández. Two professors from the University of Gdansk outlined other measures applied by the Government, such as the transition from civil contracts to labour contracts. University of León seminar

Sunita Bois-Singh, from the South Pacific University of the Republic of Vanuatu also visited León. “We wanted to know how labour relations are arranged outside of Europe, how south-south migration works, youth movements in those areas…, because, in the next edition that will be held in Valladolid, we intend to analyse the situation in Africa, America and the South Pacific”, says this representative of the organising committee. Sunita Bois-Singh, who is also familiar with the situation in New Zealand and Australia, outlined the peculiarities of the system applied in the antipodes, weighed down by an addiction to drugs and alcohol affecting fifty percent of young people.

After the seminar, during which there was time to study the new forms of business initiatives and the unemployment situation in Spain, Juan Jose Fernández reflected on the need to achieve “a covenant between generations for the distribution of employment” in our country. “We cannot have people whose expectation to find a stable job begins at the age of thirty-some, while people aged 35 to 45 enjoy full employability. We are practically sacrificing a whole generation for the sake of the previous generation”, he says. Fernández advocates sharing employment by applying quotas in favour of young people, as has been done in Germany. “I do not think it would be traumatic, in fact something similar has already been implemented for women”.


General failure of the youth warranty

One of the concerns that exists in Europe is the high number of young people who have decided to leave their studies and who are not looking for a job. The European Union decided to try to tackle this problem by introducing the Youth Warranty in 2014, a formula to enable unemployed youths under the age of 30 to access training and employment experiences for a maximum of four months. According to Professor Juan José Fernández, the seminar held in León remarked on the low percentage of young people who have registered for this initiative in Spain and in five other countries that were studied. “We were surprised by the general and absolute failure of the Youth Warranty programme. This is a matter of great concern because there is a strong resistance by NEETs to work, study or train”.

Compared to this formula that has not proved appealing, countries such as Austria and Germany are opting to force young people who receive any type of economic benefit from the State to perform certain activities for a number of hours a day for the benefit of the community. “These are tasks that are not in any way demeaning and, in fact, the government of Bavaria, the first German state in which this system has been tested, has received more than 100,000 letters of appreciation from the parents of these kids”, says Mr. Fernández.