From his position as head of the Youth Institute since 2012, Rubén Arosa has played a key role in the Spanish Government’s decision to create the Campaign Committee in support of the project promoted by the Novia Salcedo Foundation for the United Nations to declare a Youth Employment Decade. In this sense, Urosa has displayed his concern for an issue, i.e. the difficulties young people have to find stable employment, which has forced 341,000 Spaniards to emigrate between 2009 and 2013. In addition, he provides an overview of the programmes offered by INJUVE aimed at improving the training and entrepreneurial skills of young people, as well as boosting the Youth Guarantee scheme. “We are concerned about anything that prevents them from joining society as full citizens”, he summarizes.
– Injuve has been a great supporter of the campaign in favour of the proclamation of a Youth Employment Decade, launched by Novia Salcedo. What did you find most appealing about this initiative?
INJUVE has acknowledged and supported the efforts being made by the Novia Salcedo Foundation and we endorse the challenge of the international campaign for the General Assembly of the United Nations to declare a Youth Employment Decade and the goal of generating an international movement to reflect on ideas, content and shared solutions to the unemployment situation or to ensure stable employment for millions of young people around the world. This led us to encourage the Government to take on this challenge as its own and provide governmental guidance for this initiative, even on the international stage.
This is why we have been in permanent contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Secretary of State for Latin America, and with the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, which are essential in this endeavour and which agree with this project. This led to the creation, through an Agreement of the Council of Ministers, on 12 June, of the Campaign Committee for the proclamation of the Youth Employment Decade, with a view to promoting and supporting the effort to convince the General Assembly of the United Nations to declare a Youth Employment Decade.
We have also contacted international bodies that considered were necessary agents to achieve this goal, such as the Secretary General of Latin America (SEGIB), the Latin American Youth Organization (OIJ), the United Nations (UN), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United National Development Programme (UNDP). The end goal is that the declaration of the Youth Employment Decade will be a global opportunity to establish a driving force for economic and social transformation of organisations and countries.
– What is the make-up of the Spanish Committee of the Campaign to declare the Youth Employment Decade?
The Committee is co-chaired by the Ministers of Health, Social Services and Equality and of Employment and Social Security, or persons assigned by them with the rank of Secretary of State. The Novia Salcedo Foundation, as promoter of the idea and in representation of civil society, holds one of the Committee’s vice-presidencies.
We want this initiative to be successful and, therefore, it was important to seek the involvement not only of members of the State Government, but also of International Organisations, of other Spanish public administrations, of civil society and of social agents. For this reason the Committee will consist of representatives of several ministries, of the autonomous communities, the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, various international organisations, the Spanish Youth Council, the most representative business associations and trade unions, organisations representing the self-employed and the Social Economy, of national and international youth associations and NGOs specialised in youth entrepreneurship and employment and in the social and labour inclusion of young people at risk of social exclusion. In addition, other international administrations and bodies, organisations that represent social interests or experts in this issues can also be on the committee.
– How do you think governments should cooperate to jointly deal with the problem of youth unemployment in the world?
We are fully aware that it is essential that the problems young people have to join the labour market must be approached in a global manner. It would be a way of promoting a better future for them. This requires a new global approach that will improve the current situation because, although there are regional and local differences, young people are facing common problems in this respect everywhere in the world. Issues such as child labour, precariousness, a greater rate of unemployment than the rest of the population, a greater rate of temporary work, unwanted part-time work and, in general, in many cases, worse employment and wage conditions are common realities to a greater or lesser extent everywhere in the world. Therefore, the proclamation of a Youth Employment Decade is an opportunity to achieve the goals I mentioned.
– Unemployment figures have improved in recent months, do you think this trend will continue?
In Spain, youth employment is and has been one of the most serious issues facing the Government. The crisis has had a strong and negative impact on employment. In the case of young people it has been much more intense, reaching youth unemployment rates that we cannot afford. In response, and to alleviate this serious problem, the government adopted a number of measures aimed at promoting youth employment that are starting to bear fruit, although they still have to improve and become more satisfactory.
Among these measures, we can mention the Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Strategy 2013-2016, which is trying to address the main root causes of the labour market’s structural weaknesses affecting youth employment. Its approval, in February 2013, resulted from the dialogue and participation of social interlocutors and it includes 100 measures to help young people access the labour market. Towards the middle of last August, more than 432,000 young people under 30 years of age were benefiting from some of these measures. We must also add those benefiting from training and employability enhancement actions promoted by the State and by the Autonomous Communities within the framework of this Strategy.
On the other hand, the Youth Guarantee, which intends to ensure that young people who do not work or study can receive a job offer, permanent training, internship or apprentice training. In Spain, the National Youth Guarantee System (together with the relevant registration file) was launched in June 2014 in coordination with the autonomous communities. By late September, 138,179 young people had registered with the system.
We must continue to work in this direction because, although there has been a slight improvement on previous quarters, the latest Working Population Survey (3T2015) still provides disturbing figures. The unemployment rate among young people aged 16 to 29 stands at 35.87%, although this is 2.74 points less than one year ago. If we look at people aged 16 to 24, the unemployment rate is 46.58%, which is 5.81 points less than last year.
– In Spain, half of young people aged 16 to 24 are out of work. Would we have to encourage entrepreneurship so as to also regenerate the business fabric and create more jobs?
Training for becoming an entrepreneur and inculcating the entrepreneurial spirit among young people is one of the elements of the Youth in Movement initiative, within the Europe2020 Strategy, which establishes the goals that the European Union must achieve by 2020. The truth is that if we compare EU statistics on the entrepreneurial spirit of young people with surveys conducted in the USA and China, we shall realise that we still have a lot to do to provide our young people with the tools required to develop their entrepreneurial spirit naturally.
In Spain, we know that young people in general have a positive attitude to and a good opinion of entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit. In this sense, the various government bodies are working to overcome traditional barriers. At the national level, this interest has become a priority in some actions of the Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Plan 2013-2016, which includes measures to help young entrepreneurs. INJUVE also wants to contribute to this goal by establishing this priority and developing instruments for young entrepreneurs, such as the Emprende XL social network, the National Award for Young Entrepreneurs and the Inngames Competition.
– You have always mentioned mobility when talking about young people who migrate to other countries. Should we distinguish between those who leave due to a lack of opportunities and those who leave to improve their career prospects?
This issue is particularly worrying. The recent emigration of young Spaniards is difficult to quantify, as we saw in a study that the INJUVE commissioned from the National Association of Doctors and Graduates in Political Science and Sociology: “The Emigration of Young Spaniards within the Context of the Crisis”. The most remarkable results show that, between 2009 and 2013, about 341,000 Spaniards moved to the five continents. Of that figure, about 218,000 were young people (15 to 29 years of age). Most of them moved to Europe, mainly within the European Union, and a smaller proportion went to America, mainly to Latin America rather than North America.
Mobility does not always have to be something seen as negative. It provides young people with the possibility to learn from experiences that, without that mobility, would be impossible to acquire. However, even more importantly, it helps them develop as people and realise the great potential of being a citizen of the European Union. During these mobility experiences, they acquire skills and knowledge, in addition to learning other languages and coming into contact with other cultures. This enhances the life experience of young people and improves their chances of getting a job. Another thing is when that mobility is performed for strictly economic reasons because they are unable to find job opportunities where they live.
– Injuve has been involved in providing information on the Youth Guarantee through an agreement with the Ministry of Employment. Are you satisfied how young people are responding?
Yes, we are very satisfied. Firstly, in order to reach the young people targeted by the Youth Guarantee we need the cooperation of youth services. Secondly, we are satisfied with the results. The National Youth Guarantee System has been designed to ensure that young people who neither work nor study will receive training, a job or assistance to become an entrepreneur. These are the formulas that are essential to tackle the youth unemployment figures in Spain and the European Union. In Spain, the body responsible for implementing this European programme is the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, with which the INJUVE signed an agreement to promote this opportunity among young people.
One of the initiatives implemented is the Youth Information Services +Youth Guarantee project, with which we intend to help young people with limited opportunities to sign up to the Youth Guarantee by providing information and assistance through Youth Information Services. The youth services from the various Autonomous Communities and many city councils are also cooperating in this project.
The Youth Information Services +Youth Guarantee project was launched last September and has helped more than 3,000 young people to register with the National Youth Guarantee System to date. Almost 200 Youth Information Services are currently cooperating with INJUVE on this project. In the near future, we would like to extend this coverage substantially.
– In the more than three years you have been in charge of Injuve, what initiatives make you feel proud?
The programmes INJUVE has developed in this period have been aimed at promoting training and a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, in addition to encouraging relations with Europe and Latin America and international mobility, encouraging people to belong to associations and create an active citizenship, promote creativity and disseminate a healthy lifestyle. In addition, we want to be close to young people by participating in their environment, in their interests and this is why we play an active role on the Internet and social networks.
The implementation of the Youth Strategy 2020 and its Action Plan 2014-2016 is one of our most outstanding tasks. Defining this strategy required the participation of all the ministries. Approved in a cabinet meeting in 2004, it includes the policies and available resources in the various ministries for young people to develop their potential and live their lives. It also provides a diagnosis on the situation and trends that will affect young people in Spain from now until 2020.
On the other hand, the consolidation of the Erasmus+Youth in Action programme as an element of youth policies in the European Union has also required our effort. This programme, with its various aspects dedicated to promoting Youth Exchanges and the European Volunteer Service, intends to prioritise youth issues in relation to European cohesion activities, encouraging the participation of young people, favouring mobility, enhancing the feeling of European citizenship and improving the employability of young people.
It also seeks to promote entrepreneurship among young people as I mentioned before, especially by means of the InnGames programme, a new INJUVE programme aimed at encouraging, promoting and consolidating the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in the development of video games, software, Apps and interactive digital products. In essence, the idea is to promote information, training and access to new professional environments within the scope of new information and digital communication technologies.
While Erasmus+Youth in Action has been the most widely publicised programme at European level; within the scope of Spain and Latin America, the Youth Institute has continued to uphold the agreements reached with Latin American countries through its cooperation with the Latin American Youth Organisation (OIJ), which Spain is currently chairing, by prioritising expectations for collaboration and knowledge among the various member states and by promoting international cooperation and exchange projects.
– What are Spanish youths like today?
According to the United Nations’ definition, youths are people aged between 15 and 24. Although UNESCO understands that young people constitute a heterogeneous group in constant evolution and that the experience of “being young” varies widely by world region and even within the same country. However, since 1985, in the field of sociology and youth policies in Spain, the conventional youth period has been extended and is currently understood to include people aged 15 to 30.
Therefore, one of INJUVE’s tasks is precisely to get to know what being young implies. For this purpose, we have an ambitious study, research and statistical programme implemented by our Youth Observatory. Consequently, we can talk about young people and their interests, opinions and expectations with a certain level of authority. According to data from the municipal register of inhabitants, on 1st January 2015, the number of young people in Spain aged between 15 and 29 totalled 7,200,759 (15.45% of the population), of which 3,656, 554 were men and 3,544,205 were women.
From the point of view of their qualifications, we are clearly in the presence of the best prepared generation of young people in history. At all levels. This is particularly true regarding their technological knowledge, the use of ITCs, languages… At a personal level, they are especially concerned about unemployment and the consequences arising from it, such as financial difficulties, a delay in being able to leave home and build a family, and a fall in the birth rate. They are also concerned about the mismatch between training and the labour market. In short, everything that prevents them from becoming full members of society.
In general, our studies confirm that young people in Spain have a quite satisfied with their lives and value their family and friends highly. They also see gender-based violence as unacceptable. Regarding what they do in their free time, they mainly use computers and other IT devices, hang out with their friends, listen to music, watch television and read newspapers and books.
– What role has and does Injuve play when it comes to finding solutions to their main concerns?
The Spanish Youth Institute (INJUVE) is a public body that is dependent on the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality. It focuses on promoting policies and services that help young people to satisfy their needs and requirements. Based on this goal, it designs actions and activities aimed at promoting equal opportunities, encouraging their social participation and promoting collaboration with other ministerial departments and public administrations that have an impact on young people.
Therefore, the programmes INJUVE undertakes are connected with youth emancipation, employment, access to housing, training, encouraging a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, joining associations, active citizenship, creativity and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, among other issues. Among them, we can stress the European ERASMUS+Youth in Action programme, the EMPRENDEXL social network for young entrepreneurs, the InnGames programme to promote employment and entrepreneurship in the field of digital leisure products, Jovenes Investigadores (Young Researchers), Creación Injuve, studies and research by the Spanish Youth Observatory, activities by the Euro-Latin-American Youth Centre (CEULAJ), the support of youth organisations and youth information services, in addition to other of an institutional nature to promote youth relationships and international mobility between Europe and Latin America. Our role, therefore, could be summarised as providing policies in the fields mentioned to respond to the demands and problems that young people have.