Joblessness worries

The data recently released by the Greek National Statistics Service (NSS), according to which unemployment in the second quarter of the year declined by 0.7 percent compared to the same period last year, met with deep skepticism. Although the NSS findings were not supported by the necessary analytical evidence, a drop in unemployment has indeed taken place, though not in all age categories. NSS admits that the fall in the joblessness rate does not include young people. Most of the jobs that were created over the previous decade were taken up by people who were over 30. According to data released by the National Labor Institute (EIE), 40 percent of the newly unemployed are pupils or students, while 25 percent are men who have just completed their military service. Only 48 percent of those who have recently joined the labor market have managed to find employment. Alarmingly, a percentage of those «lucky ones» have only found part-time or seasonal employment. One would expect that the so-called Convergence Charter that the government is due to make public this week will contain some measures to tackle the scourge of unemployment. However, it’s hard to be optimistic about the cash value of the government’s promises given that even the huge EU funds that were spent (or were they squandered?) on employment and training bore little fruit. Unemployment among young people jeopardizes their development into full members of society (hence worsening the demographic problem), but also deprives their families of extra income. The problem is also closely linked to the education and training deficit and to the huge expense of education (as demonstrated by the ICAP survey last week). Reducing unemployment among young people must be a national goal for Greece. The government must discover new ways of linking education to the labor market, re-evaluate career training methods and refashion higher education so as not to have more of those university schools that – because of what they teach or how well they teach – swell the ranks of the unemployed. Faced with this daunting task, we must place substance before campaign slogans and serious arguments before political expediency.