(15 January – 15 March 2010)
Youth employment and its impact on youth autonomy
Youth unemployment constitutes perhaps the main problem that young people face today in Greece. The rate of youth unemployment is one of the highest in Europe and even much higher in relation to the rate of total unemployment in Greece. Moreover, the employment quality of those who have work is relatively low. The flexible employment in which young people are obliged to run, the phenomenon of employers’ arbitrariness and of non-effective function of the control mechanisms, as well as the uncertainty of the future of the social security system create a feeling of insecurity among young people.
The obstacles that especially young people face in accessing the labour market constitute the main youth problem in our country. What is observed is a lack of effectiveness of the national policies supporting the access to labour market. For this reason, there is a demand for strengthening these policies with active measures and reforming the institutions responsible for their implementation. Moreover, part-time employment is more extensive than the desirable full-time one due to the insecurity of finding a job.
In Greece, the phenomenon of insufficient youth autonomy is highlighted. Youth employment is considered the key factor for the promotion or prevention of youth autonomy. Another reason is social culture. In this respect, many young people decide to leave their parents’ house after the age of 30 and try to be autonomous. Also, many argue for the role the obligatory military service may play in young people’s autonomy as well as for the lack of national youth housing policy. Additionally, young people’s available income is relatively low and for this reason supporting and reinforcing policies are required. To this extent the European Youth Card could play an essential role which should be strengthened at European and national level.
Entrepreneurship and self-employment of young people
The phenomenon of entrepreneurship of need and not that of opportunity is intensely observed. Also, we often come across with the problems of short-term entrepreneurship and lack of export orientation of new enterprises. What is required is a turn in the reinforcement of entrepreneurship of high possibilities as well as the reinforcement and promotion of structures of youth entrepreneurship support such as the youth entrepreneurship units. Furthermore, an action of cost reduction on the commencement and initial growth of youth entrepreneurship should take place and in general, a coordinated action which aims at facilitating youth entrepreneurship. The decentralised/regional dimension of entrepreneurship reinforcement should be an important element of the national policies.
Working conditions and equal treatment. Conciliation of private and working life
The phenomenon of under-employment and hetero-employment is intensely observed among young people. Moreover, phenomena such as those of uninsured employment, of full-time employment with contracts of part-time, of self-employment in the context of dependent employment, of renting employees and so on are observed. Additionally, the phenomenon of age-related discrimination in the labour market is intensely noted, but as a common practice and not in an institutional way. The decreased quality of employment and the lack of autonomy of many young people have a negative impact on the conciliation of private and working life. Young mothers and single-parent families face a great problem in this field. The framework of the labour and social security legislation is extremely complex, while at the same time there are not any efficient control mechanisms. There is also a serious problem of inter-generational justice in the national financial and social security policies. A diminution of bureaucracy, a coding of legislation and reinforcement in practice of the control mechanisms are required.
Training and education, life long learning and mobility. Innovation, creativity and the use of new IT
There is great consideration on the effectiveness of the link between higher education and labour market. Technical education is much depreciated, while at the same time the effectiveness of the school vocational guidance is decreased. The labour market does not fully recognise non formal and informal learning and questions of certifying them still exist; that is why there is a great need for their institutional recognition. Cases of low, if any, business training of new employees and in general life-long learning are observed. A framework for the reinforcement of social abilities of young people does not exist. Innovation and creativity are rarely promoted either through structures or as a culture, an educational object or a national youth policy.
Social dialogue, participation and rights of workers
Young people are underrepresented in the decision-making processes at all levels, such as in institutions, political parties, employers’ and trade unions. Until recently, there has not been any form of national youth policy. There is lack of institutional representation of young people except at local level, where there are no specific tasks; also there is no provision institutionalising structured dialogue with young people. Furthermore, youth representatives are not included in the structures of social dialogue and as a result their voice is not officially heard by decision-makers.
Social cohesion and inclusion
Young people living in remote and inaccessible areas face problems in terms of social cohesion and inclusion. Education, training and labour access opportunities are relatively few.
Young people belonging to vulnerable groups, such as ROMA, young people with disabilities, homosexuals and so on, face great problems of social inclusion.
Β) Identification of Priorities
All the above problems should be tackled with policies at European and national level. What is of immediate need is to adopt a specific framework of recognizing the problems and identifying the appropriate tackling level. An important step to this effect should be the launch of a specific European and national youth strategy, based on horizontal policies and funding. Main policy priorities should be the unemployment reduction and the employment reinforcement, as well as the education and training of young employees.
C) Indicative proposals
- Launch of an horizontal National Youth Policy and further development of the European Youth Policy
- Further development and institutionalisation of the structured dialogue with young people on policies of youth concern
- Creation of youth housing policy
- Strengthening of policies for the substantial promotion of youth employment, self-employment and in the field of entrepreneurship
- Further development and promotion of the European Youth Card at national and European level
- Reform of the social security system based on the concept of inter-generational justice, on ensuring youth rights and the sustainability of the social security system
- Labour market reforms targeted at reducing the non-wage labour costs, simplifying the laws and procedures as well as strengthening the control mechanisms
- Promotion of alternative funding tools for the reinforcement of entrepreneurship and self-employment
- Further development and empowerment of activities in the field of social economy
- Launch of the institution of the Generation Ombudsman for the evaluation and consultation regarding the impacts of current policies on future generations.
* Το παραπάνω κείμενο κατατέθηκε στην ΕΕ από την Ελληνική Εθνική Ομάδα Εργασίας για τη νέα γενιά, με αφορμή την ολοκλήρωση της πρώτης φάσης του Ευρωπαϊκού Διαλόγου για την Απασχόληση των νέων στην Ευρώπη. Την πρωτοβουλία ανέλαβε η Ισπανική Προεδρία. Η Εθνική Ομάδα Εργασίας έχει αναλάβει το συντονισμό και την οργάνωση του ελληνικού ανοιχτού διαλόγου. Αποτελείται από τους εκπροσώπους των παρακάτω φορέων και οργανώσεων: Εθνικό Συμβούλιο Νεολαίας, Γραμματεία Νέων ΓΣΕΕ, «γενιά των 700 ευρώ» - G700, Youthnet Hellas, ΤΟΣΥΝ Μεγάρων, εκπρόσωπος Γενικής Γραμματείας Νέας Γενιάς, εκρόσωπος της ακαδημαϊκής κοινότητας στο πεδίο των πολιτικών νεολαίας.