Youth employment: an unsolved problem

The situation of young people in the Spanish labour market has been problematic since the mid-1970s. One of the consequences of the serious employment crisis that started then was the emergence of youth unemployment: in the context of a sharp decrease in paid employment, there was a tendency to avoid new contracts. This led to massive – and in many cases long-term – unemployment among young people. Youth unemployment remained very high until the mid-1980s, even though at this time the work participation rate amongst young people decreased considerably due to the extension of the period of compulsory education (the unemployment rate of young persons aged 16-24 ranged between 40% and 60%, depending on age and sex, in 1985).

In the mid-1980s, important changes began to appear. Between 1985 and 1991 there was a considerable growth in employment, mainly through the use of temporary contracts that particularly affect young people: youth unemployment decreased considerably (to between 24% and 40% for 16-24 year-olds) and temporary employment rose sharply (to between 65% and 80% for 16-24 year-olds). The problem of youth unemployment was thus transformed into a problem of insecure youth employment: young people are reaching an increasingly high level of education, but obtain less qualified jobs than they aspire to, and for a longer or shorter period alternate between temporary work and unemployment….More

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