AC Buzz

Catalonia: Generation in Exile

The economic crisis, labour reform and a lack of skilled work is forcing many young Catalans to seek work abroad

(By Carina Garcia) You go to school, grow up, maybe travel a bit and graduate. Then, it’s time to find a job and forge a career, meet someone, settle down, start a family and continue working to pay the bills. For young people, the path is clearly laid out and it seems relatively simple. But what if you don’t like studying? What if you can’t find a job? Or what if you don’t want to raise a family? Perhaps it is not so simple, after all.


This is particularly true today, mired in an ongoing economic crisis that has hit the job prospects of young people hard. Given the current circumstances many young people have been forced to think outside the box and consider alternatives to the traditional lifestyle. Among the options taken up by many young Catalans is to go abroad, as Nadine Rutow, of the Oficina de Joventut i Habitatge, explains. She says that “above all since 2012” the number of young Catalans leaving the country for financial reasons has risen sharply: “Leaving has become a necessity,” she says.

Spokesperson for the UGT’s Avalot-Joves, Afra Blanco, recently presented her organisation’s latest report on the matter: Joves mes a mes 2014. The aim of the document is to check the state’s claims that we are starting to emerge from the crisis and how well Catalonia’s recovery is going. Blanco says the report shows that “the most common temporary contract in Catalonia is for days, the most unstable of all.”

With this in mind, Avalot claims that it is impossible for young people “to develop their life project”, a process that requires “the capacity to train and develop and enter the job market in a stable and dignified manner”, with the aim of attaining independence from their families. As a result, says Blanco, “Catalonia has been unable to offer attractive, dignified and stable jobs”, so that many “perfectly well-educated” young people have chosen to leave.

The latest Idescat figures on youth emigration, based on the registry of foreign residents, say the number of Catalans living abroad was 221,444 in 2014. Of these, 55,319 were between 15 and 34. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of young Catalans resident abroad rose by 19,772.

Sandra Fachelli is a researcher at the Grup de Recerca en Educació i Treball at the UAB, which specialises in the situation of university graduates. Analysing the latest report from the Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Educatiu (AQU), carried out in the first quarter of 2014, she says that graduate unemployment is lower than that of other young people without such a high level of studies, and the gap is growing. According to the AQU study, of a total 15,556 graduates from public Catalan universities, some 3% work abroad.

Precarious jobs

“Today we have a serious problem with the numbers of qualified people compared with the skilled jobs available,” says Joan Miquel Verd, member of the UAB’s Centre d’Estudis Sociològics sobre la Vida Quotidiana i el Treball…

Source: Catalonia Today

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