Discussing the sources of unemployment and the opportunities for the new generation
In the previous article of team blue about our stop in Prague, we discussed the curious case of Euro-scepticism and scepticism in general in the Czech Republic. The next destination of our travel was the student city Brno where we found a statue that symbolizes this interesting aspect of Czech society: an iron giant holding a cube that is standing in front of the impressive legal court. Michaela, who was our guide in the city, told us that the statue symbolizes the Czech attitude towards justice. The cube represents the truth; implying that even if you are holding the truth in your hands it still has many sides. Justice is a matter of interpretation and we have to keep a certain sceptical reservation towards it. Keeping this wisdom in mind, we challenged the students of Brno to think about and to discuss the issue of youth (un) employment. What truths could we find regarding this topic and what are the sources of scepticism?
The machines are getting our jobs!
We started our discussion in Brno by trying to answer the question: “why does unemployment exist in the first place?” Some of the participants argued that a growing number of people that attends university and an inflation of value of academic diplomas caused the rise in unemployment. While more and more people are studying for example political science and culture studies, it is unclear whether there is a job market for all those graduates. Others argued that unemployment was on the rise because of a decline of major industries in Europe, causing a huge loss of jobs. By moving our industries to Asia, we are losing jobs in our countries.
One of the main points of discussion was the role of technology in the change of the labour market. This point touches upon a question that was already present during the industrial revolution: “will the machines take our jobs?” Until now, history has shown us that this fear might have been unnecessary while industrialization and mechanization has created more jobs rather then less. However, the nature of our work has changed tremendously: from a job market of farmers to a job market of factory workers; from a job market of factory workers to a job market of bureaucrats and accountants. We transformed from an agricultural to an industrial to a service economy. According to recent studies, 47% of all jobs is likely to be replaced by mechanized labour in the near future. The big question of the current age is: what is next?
The consensus amongst the group was that the job market in the future will be much more individualized and will encourage people to develop and sell their unique personal skills. In other words: the job market of the future will be one of entrepreneurs. It was interesting to hear that almost one-third of the group was seriously considering to start his or her own business. However, the current regulations and procedures in the Czech Republic where viewed as very discouraging and complicated. A question that arises from this in a European context is: how can we create an environment in Europe in which the threshold to starting a business is much lower and in which young entrepreneurs are supported in the first steps of a starting a company?
The future: creative academics versus the others?
In honour of the Czech spirit, a sceptical reply could not be absent in the discussion. Surprisingly, the president of AEGEE-Brno Ivan, who has Slowakian roots, provided this reply. He argued that, as is often the case in discussions amongst academics, solutions are almost always presented in the context of people with an academic background. If we expect all young people to be provided with challenging internships and entrepreneurial support, do we really reach the entire group of people that is hit by unemployment? Ivan argued that there is a large group of unemployed youngsters that lacks an academic or creative background and would not benefit at all from the solutions that are presented. A relevant issue to be raised is therefore how to create European solutions against unemployment for all youngsters and not only those who have the fortune of an academic background or a creative spirit.
Youth unemployment seems to be a very complicated matter with as many problems as it contains solutions. Its unpredictable nature seems to make it difficult to create a coherent policy that would benefit all. What will the job market of the future look like, now technology starts affecting the service sector? Young people need to discuss these issues in order to sustain a society in which most are included and find purpose in their work. Keeping this in mind, we left Brno in order to catch a train to Warsaw; the next stop of team blue. In the capital of Poland, we will discuss the opinion of the Polish people about the EU. How Europtimistic will they be?