Reducing youth unemployment is on the agenda of the various administrations and entities, which are committed to analysing and discussing solutions so that a population group that has been so severely punished by the crisis can find employment. This is the context of the first edition of the Gazte Up Employment and Youth Event that has taken place in the Artium Museum in Vitoria, organized by El Correo and sponsored by the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Alava and the City Council of the capital of Alava.
More than a hundred young people who are taking university and Vocational Training courses listened to the advice provided by politicians and successful entrepreneurs. The Regional Minister for Employment of the Basque Government, Angel Toña, encouraged them to “identify your own vocations. I prefer to accept a lower quality job but one where I feel comfortable”. In addition, he asked young people “not to waste time” watching TV but to “spend hours in the street, looking”. Toña said that people who are 23 will not have problems finding jobs in conditions that “will be different, but better”. The situation for people aged 27 to 29 who were out of work was not so promising because “each year that goes by makes things more difficult”.
The Basque Minister also gave young people more advice; for example, they should be careful choosing grants because “people are not hired to make photocopies”. Apprentices are not needed for that or to replace other workers. Another piece of advice was that they should look into institutional programmes carefully “because there are always things that we are not familiar with”. He criticised businessmen who offered insecure contracts and recommended that they “should image they are hiring a son and treat people as if they belonged to their family”.
During the question time, the young people present raised their concerns about the chances of finding a job after the age of 33, the difficulties in seeking independence from their families due to low wages and the work conditions of veteran workers.
The entrepreneurial experience
The key intervention of the second part of Gazte Up fell to three young successful entrepreneurs: Borja Saracho, Susana Malón and Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria. The first of them, founder of Bajoelagua Factory, the only winery under the sea in the world, said that entrepreneurship was “an opportunity, a very enriching experience” and encouraged young people to take a chance “if you have that buzz; I personally find it fulfilling”. Susana Malone, who is responsible for the company, Lumínica Ambiental, advocated overcoming fear and laziness. “The goal is to look at the long-term. I found it very difficult to do away with that feeling of comfort you get from being an employee, because we have ups and downs and you may not have a salary at the end of the month. However, you can make it if you have the drive”.
On the other hand, Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria, founder and CEO of Sherpa, an application for Samsung mobile phones, was not quite convinced that entrepreneurship was an alternative for all young people. “It entails other responsibilities. While others are enjoying a Sunday off, for example, you may have to spend the day preparing a meeting you have on Monday. It is true that it is fashionable, but entrepreneurship will change your life”, he asserted.