High youth unemployment levels in Europe

Europe is suffering from very high unemployment levels amongst younger people and might be causing a(nother) lost generation. In Spain around 52.9% of the under 25’s are unemployed, in Greece it’s just over 50%, in Sweden it’s a lot better, but still 25% are not in work. Other European countries with very high unemployment levels (>25%) are Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the Czech Republic. The Euro zone average is a whopping 22.8%.

The weird situation has now arisen that in some countries, such as the Netherlands, companies are actually leaving the country (and the EU) because they can not find enough staff in order to be able to keep running their businesses.

The question is why does Europe not want to employ eager, well educated young people?

The reason might be very simple.


The cost of employing young staff has now risen to such heights that it has become virtually impossible to hire (and fire) people in a way that makes financial sense. The high level of pay for entry level jobs gives companies little incentive to choose young people over more experienced candidates.

To add to that, the unions have been (too) successful in pushing through their demands and are unwilling to give up their hard won rights. This stance is not helping young job seekers either.

Thanks to European employment law, the high cost of firing workers means employers are reluctant to hire people with little, or little known, experience, making it tougher for young people and immigrants to gain a foothold in the job market. They also bear the brunt of any job cuts in a downturn due to strictly enforced “last in, first out” selection criteria during redundancies.

Various parties across Europe try to play the unemployment level down by claiming that this age group contains a large number of students who have registered as ‘job seekers’ in order to find part-time work. You could also argue the opposite. Many young people who have registered as ‘unemployed’ have chosen to continue studying as they realise there are no jobs and are hoping they might stand a better chance with even more degrees.

The answer to all the economic trouble is (that is, according to us….) deregulation. By having too much red tape, the economy grinds to a halt. It happened in communist Russia and Cuba and is happening in now in Europe. Smaller countries such as Singapore, Australia, Chile and New Zealand realised this problem years ago and have started to deregulate themselves with clear results. Their economies are still doing well, despite the economic crisis.

So, Brussels…. get your act together!

Stop demanding more money for your bureaucratic needs and slim down the bloated organisation. Throw out all those unnecessary regulations and focus on the things the EU was set up to do. Facilitate doing business across Europe, enable people to work anywhere in a united Europe and make sure that people across Europe learn to communicate with each other. Only then business will pick up and real jobs will be created.


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