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Spanish youth succumb to despair in economic downturn

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 29th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As Spain's economic downturn drags on into its fifth year, with as many as one in four people being unemployed, this nation's young people are bearing a more than fair share of the burden. Unemployment among Spaniards under 30 years of age is a staggering 50 percent.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With only about 30 percent of Spanish youths able to attend university, there is still no guarantee of jobs upon the completion of a degree. Current college students worry that their degrees, four years down the road will be able to land them employment.

"When the crisis hit they cut funding for scientific research a lot," one biology student says. "So I am sure I will have to go to another country to do research or whatever because here there is no guaranteed work in scientific investigation." 

One 27-year-old woman with two business degrees says that this is the first time she's had to hit the unemployment line.

"While I was studying, they told us it was a very good career [move] to have, a double degree, and that we would find jobs very easily," she says. "And it was not like that. When we went out it was really difficult to find a job. We are not able to have a normal life of a 27-year-old boy or girl."

While she managed some temporary jobs after she graduated, those have since disappeared. Like many Spanish professionals, she is thinking of leaving the country.

"Here I see that I do not have many opportunities and that my friends are also like me, so that worries me a lot," she says. "It is not only me, it is everybody."

It's a double-edged sword. Experts say that educated workers will be what Spain needs to rebuild its economy. Millions of less-educated Spaniards will need to upgrade their skills so they can work in services or high-technology industries. Analyst Guntram Wolff says that the current situation will leave Spain with a generation of discouraged workers.

"We are talking here about a lost generation, I mean the people between 20 and 30, they are essentially without a job, 50 percent are without a job," Wolff explained. "And we know this is a life experience that marks you for your entire life."

On the uptick, young people who don't have to worry about getting jobs are trying to help those affected by the crisis. As an example, students from an expensive private high school volunteer at a food distribution center.

"In your life, normally, you ... live with people who have money, who can pay everything, and here are people who came here to... to have a breakfast. It is an experience that I think every person should live," one Spanish youth says.

More and more Spanish young people are living the experience of economic hard times, one way or another.

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