Spain's lost generation: Confronting the crisis of unemployment and educational shortfalls 

In Spain, 27.8% of young people aged 15 to 24 are in a precarious situation, neither employed nor engaged in education, significantly surpassing the OECD average of 15%. This highlights a deepening youth unemployment crisis in the country. 


Nonso Onowu on December 04, 2023 Average reading time: 2 min
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Spain's lost generation: Confronting the crisis of unemployment and educational shortfalls 

Compounding this issue is the high rate of school dropouts. According to the OECD’s “Education at a Glance” report, 27% of the Spanish population aged 25-34 have not completed their education, leaving 1.4 million young Spaniards without professional qualifications.

This includes 32% of boys and 21% of girls in this age group.

Additionally, the prevalence of ‘ninis’ – young individuals who are neither in education nor employment – a term gotten from “ni estudian ni trabajan”, the Spanish phrase for those who “neither study nor work  is a significant concern, with 17% of Spanish youth falling into this category. 

The dropout rate impacts the Spanish labor market and economy. Despite students spending more hours in school, and the country having slightly higher levels of university graduates than average, a substantial proportion does not complete secondary education.

Educational results drop after age 10, even though Spanish schools offer more teaching hours than the OECD average. 

Spain’s education system, criticized for being outdated and overly focused on rote learning, has undergone recent reforms. However, these reforms have faced criticism for not effectively addressing the challenges. Experts suggest a shift towards hands-on learning and work experience opportunities for students. 

These findings highlight the need for Spain to reform its education system to better prepare youth for the job market. This includes addressing both the high dropout rates and the skills mismatch in the labor market. The declining trend of ‘ninis’, from over 20% in 2017 to 17% in 2022, suggests that some efforts are starting to have an impact. 

Spain can learn from European countries like Sweden and France, which have successfully tackled similar challenges through targeted educational strategies.

These strategies focus on second-chance education systems, proactive tracking of school dropouts, and incentivizing teachers to work in challenging environments. 

In conclusion, Spain’s youth face a daunting challenge, but it is not hopeless yet. A combination of educational reforms, labor market adjustments, and shifts in societal attitudes towards vocational training and education is crucial.

By drawing lessons from European successes and implementing diverse strategies, Spain can transform this crisis into an opportunity for growth and development.

The future of Spain’s youth is pivotal, and the actions taken now will significantly impact the country’s socio-economic landscape. Through collaborative efforts and a commitment to change, there is a path towards a brighter future for Spain’s young population. 

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