Regional Particularities in Greece: The role of Geography

The YOUTHShare project continues its focus articles regarding regional particularities, featuring Greece and its peculiar geography.

Employment has been deeply affected during the pandemic and Greece has been receiving its own share of the damage. Except for the different age groups that have been experiencing major difficulties in job seeking, there is also another factor who plays an important role in this quest: Geography. Mainland and insular areas show inequalities in the employment rates when compared, which brings to light issues that need to be addressed.

Regarding youth (age group 15-19) employment in Greece, figures have decreased significantly since the second quarter of 2020, reaching 2021 with a drop of 13,9% according to the International Labour Office (ILO), with data deriving from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). Moreover, data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) for 2020 show that employment of NEETs in the same age group plummeted 19,9% in total[1], while the National Institute of Labour and Human Resources (NIHLR) reports that specifically for the age group 25-29 employment decreased by 15% in 2020 and even more in January 2021[2].

The issue of spatial unevenness in the Greek regions was brought up by the 2nd brief report of YOUTHShare ‘Covid-19 Regional Labour’ Research team: “Insular regions of Greece, whose economies are strongly dependent on tourism, have recorded the greatest decline in the number of employed people, while on the contrary, Attiki, the capital region, and Kentriki Makedonia, reported a quarterly positive change in employment between 2020Q1 to 2020Q2 (0.2% and 0.5%, respectively)”. Consequently, urban regions proved to be more resilient to the pandemic crisis in contrast with peripheral and insular ones, that dependent mostly on a, proved to be high-risk, sector: tourism.

YOUTHShare project activities as well as the results of operation by the Greek branch of the Transnational Employment Centre show that more than 65% of 101 YOUTHShare traineeswere living in insular, peripheral or mountain regions in the Greek territory. “YOUTHShare was an opportunity for them to be inspired and set new personal goals[..]”, as Anna, a trainee, has stated. Anna comes from a small Greek island and is one of the thousands of women that were severely affected by the pandemic. “Being a graduate didn’t allow me to consider my hometown as a place of choice, at first, as the only available jobs were in agriculture or tourism industry. Being a woman was more difficult for me on the island”.Anna was already a graduate, but she needed more digital skills to be able to find employment in her birthplace – something that she managed through the YOUTHShare program.

Another example is Jwara, a refugee and asylum seeker, who was unable to incorporate to the local society due to language, cultural and social distancing barriers. Although he lived in the mainland, being member of a marginalised group was also a negative factor in his job seeking. Thanks to the YOUTHShare program, he got the skills necessary to find a job and have the opportunity to explore different paths in life.  

Throughout the years of operation of the Greek branch of the Transnational Employment Centre, more than 200 NEETs were empowered and more than 100 received career counselling. Especially during these challenging times, its presence seems more necessary and useful than ever.

[1] OECD Employment Outlook 2021: “Navigating the Covid-19 Crisis and Recovery”, July 2021

[2] National Institute of Labour and Human Resources (2021), THEMATIC FACTSHEET N. 5March 2021 “The impact of pandemic into the Labour Market” [https://www.eiead.gr/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/OI_EPIPTOSEIS_THS_PANDHMIAS_COVID19_STHN_AGORA_ERGASIAS.pdf]

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