The YOUTHShare project initiates a series of focus articles on regional particularities regarding unemployment, migration and related policies. In the first article, the case of Murcia, Spain.
The Region of Murcia continues to be one of the twenty European communities with the highest rate of youth unemployment, ranking 17th out of 260 regions, with an unemployment rate of 37.5% among young people under 25 in 2020, according to the latest data published by Eurostat. Only autonomous communities such as the Canary Islands, Andalusia, Castile-La Mancha, Extremadura or those in the southern part of Italy and almost all of Greece surpass it. A significant increase can be seen in the figures for this last year as a consequence of the health and economic crisis: between 2019 and 2020, the youth unemployment rate has increased by 4.1%.
Youth unemployment and precariousness of jobs have been identified as key factors in the spanish brain drain and overall migration patterns over the past few years (ECE 2018). The correlation between emigration and youth unemployment is further stressed in the Action Plan for Youth Employment of the Spanish Employment Service. This action plan does not only connect employment circumstances to the brain drain out of Spain, but the wording of its Guiding Principle 4 makes it clear that we may also be referring to internal migration from disadvantaged areas to more privileged ones: “4. Promote actions to achieve a labour market that offers rights, stability and job promotion, that eliminates inequalities between women and men and that also contributes to halting the depopulation of demographically threatened territories” (SEPE 2019-2021).
The economic and refugee crises that have hit Europe, and particularly the European South, brought the issue of social exclusion into sharp focus. Social exclusion is a phenomenon that consists of issues pertaining to citizen rights on one hand, and to inequality and poverty on the other. This second aspect also means that exclusion is inextricably linked with unemployment and the question of the quality of employment – a person employed at a marginal job is not necessarily saved from social exclusion. This is why actions for employment and social inclusion cannot be effective if they take a horizontal, one-size-fits-all approach. Particular attention must be paid to vulnerable groups, which often include women, migrants, families with young children, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities etc.
It is along these lines that UCAM, through the Technological Institute of Murcia (ITM) and the OPRI (International Projects Office), together with AEII (Educational Association for Integration and Equality) collaborate with eight more partners to promote youth employment through the project “A Place for Youth in Mediterranean EEA: Resilient and Sharing Economies for NEETs (YOUTHShare)”. A project born in November 2018, the result of a common effort made by partners from four Mediterranean countries: Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Spain, and Norway funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment
The initiative aims to investigate the characteristics of youth unemployment and explore sustainable solutions, combining a comprehensive analysis of contemporary unemployment with the piloting of tailor-made solutions. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a paradigm for policy makers, local authorities and chambers, companies and other public or private stakeholders to create sustainable jobs in disadvantaged regions.
YOUTHShare targets young people between the ages of 25 and 29, unemployed and not in education, with a special focus on women, refugees and migrants. The project offers an opportunity for work placements, with support and participation in guidance, counseling and personalized training activities, which strengthen personal and work competencies and skills, linking them to host companies in the territory belonging to innovative economic sectors. In the Region of Murcia alone, around 200 young people have had the opportunity to participate in this program, develop their professional skills and gain access to the labor market.
SEPE (2019), ‘Action Plan for youth Employment 2019-2021’, Servicio Publico de Empleo Estatal. available at https://bit.ly/3hQeC4c
ECE (2018), ‘European Centre of Expertise (ECE) in the field of labour law, employment and labour market policy: Labour market policy thematic review 2018. An in-depth analysis of the emigration of skilled labour, Spain’, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion European Centre of Expertise (ECE). Available at https://op.europa.eu/el/publication-detail/-/publication/ce22659d-c138-11e8-9893-01aa75ed71a1/language-el