Young workers hit hardest by financial crisis

Jobless figures amongst young Danes echoes dour EU statistics showing historically high youth unemployment rates

A new report from the economic policy institute Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd (AE) indicates that from the middle of 2008 until 2010 a massive number of young workers lost their jobs as the financial crisis told hold.

During the two-year period, 265,000 Danes lost their jobs. Nearly 25 percent, or 65,000, of them were under the age of 30.

The employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), said she was appalled at the unemployment rate, which is at its highest since the 1980’s.

“The numbers are terribly high; they are way too high,” Frederiksen told Politiken newspaper. “Every society has a distinct responsibility to fight against unemployment within the younger generation, and we must react to this.”

Especially the uneducated were hit hard. Some 28 percent of young workers under the age of 30 without a high school diploma lost their jobs, and according to AE's director, Lars Andersen, it is often the unskilled jobs that disappear first.

“People without an education are affected the most and they're the ones that will be at the end of the queue when things hopefully begin to move forward again,” Andersen told Politiken. “This only goes to further emphasise how important it is for young people to get an education.”

As opposed to the young uneducated workers, only eight percent of highly-skilled workers under 30, who had completed long term educations, lost their jobs. The report from AE also indicates that it is primarily the trade, transport, building and industrial sectors that have suffered the biggest reductions of young employment.

Frederiksen mentioned initiatives such as 3,000 more work placement positions and more adult apprenticeships that have helped younger people find work. But she underlined the power of education.

“It is necessary to have education and employment initiatives set together,” Frederiksen told Politiken. ”It is essential that the younger folks get an education, more so than getting a job, otherwise we risk that they will become unemployed again in the future.”

Frederiksen, who made waves in February by saying that graduates should take unskilled work instead of waiting for a job in their field, will co-host an unofficial EU ministerial meeting in Horsens on Tuesday to discuss the towering unemployment numbers currently stalking most of Europe.

According to AE, the average unemployment rate among workers aged 15-29 in the EU15 nations is at 16.5 percent.

While Denmark is below that average at 11.8 percent, and well below the 35 percent  seen in Spain and Greece, the rates in Germany and the Netherlands are considerably lower, between six and seven percent.





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