31.2%, THE LOWEST OF THE LOW

Second posting in a day, yes, I have the urge today.

Here’s Spain for you: there were two news items yesterday worth contrasting. On the one hand, a report by the European Commission revealed that in Spain 31.2% of the 18-24 age segment abandon their secondary education studies. The European average is just 14%, high enough for the Commission to launch a plan to curb it down urgently (see https://ec.europa.eu/education/news/news2768_en.htm). An article in El Público blames the Spanish horror on the easy money that young people could make in Spain until the real state bubble burst out (see https://www.publico.es/espana/359168/el-auge-del-ladrillo-disparo-el-fracaso-escolar-en-espana). This is funny because the picture my students offered of jobs for the young was quite bleak also at the time of supposed bonanza, courtesy of Aznar’s labour reform. Anyway, youth unemployment is today 51%, the highest in the European Union. Wonder why…

Connect this to the other news item: retirement age has been increased to 67 (university teacher retire at 70, by the way). The main trade unions were yesterday celebrating, as they claimed that the agreement with the Government regulated retirement at an earlier age, provided the worker had been paying his/her retirement fee or contribution to the Social Security for 37,5 years. Now: my dad started working aged 14, so he could have retired aged 51,5 (he pre-retired, like too many workers made redundant at the state’s expense, at 61). The joke is that with that 51% unemployment and all the lousy contracts few young people start contributing to their pensions in earnest before they’re 30. Check this: 30 + 37,5 = 67,5. Nice, huh?

Here’s what missing: unless young people go back to school to finish their secondary education (and let’s hope the standards go up), we, the oldies, won’t get a pension. Much less if the unemployment figures stay so high and if the few lucky ones who get a job are as ill-treated by employers as they are now. Check this: I have a very nice student employed as a waiter by a very famous luxury hotel here in BCN –he’s sub-employed through a temp agency and recently his 10 euros an hour went down to 8. He has been unable to attend classes regularly because even though he explained he needed a regular schedule when he signed up, he’s been given a different one every week. And he is, remember, trying to complete his university education to give all of us a better future, with pensions.

In Trainspotting Renton famously says that Scots are “the lowest of the low.” Now, they’re not: we are. So, back to teaching, see if I can secure my own pension…

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