Good unemployment figures, bad training figures
The unemployment data with which we have closed the year this December is encouraging: there are 25.8% fewer unemployed (which translates into 128,453 people) than twelve months ago. In addition, Social Security enrolment is growing, so that the number of registered workers in Catalonia now exceeds 3.5 million. Although it is taking a long time to overcome the covid virus, it seems that we are beginning to overcome the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, even if the pace of recovery in Catalonia and Spain is slower than initially thought and we are at the tail end of Europe. In any case, the fact that employment is picking up is objectively good news, and the fact that it is doing so, especially among young people, even more so. Specifically, in December the number of unemployed under-25s stood at 17,740, the lowest figure since records began in 1996. That said, we cannot ignore the fact that the increase in hiring is mainly in the services sector (although tourism continues to suffer), and that it is with many temporary and part-time contracts (many for young people), while industry is slower (especially the automotive industry)
It can therefore be said that we are beginning to emerge from the economic hole caused by the virus, but that there is an underlying problem that persists and that has a lot to do with the training of workers, as stated in a study by Pimec also made public on Tuesday. In contrast to the average for the euro zone, and especially the German case, there are more highly educated than uneducated among our workers, but very few with intermediate training: in other words, we have many workers with no studies for an undemanding service sector and, on the other hand, we lack vocational training qualifications for industry. In Germany, on the other hand, intermediate qualifications are in the majority, well above university degrees, while there are few workers with no studies or with basic qualifications.
There are therefore two urgent needs. On the one hand, obviously, the way out of the crisis, which will partly follow the end of the pandemic, but not only. On the other hand, we must seriously tackle, with facts and determination, the eternal deficit in the field of vocational training, which we have been talking about for too long, without ever really focusing on the solutions. It is true that with the pandemic crisis there has been an increase in public demand for this type of studies, a fact that caused a shortfall in places which should not have occurred. Be that as it may, we must give priority to vocational training, especially dual vocational training. There must be a decisive and broadly agreed commitment to guarantee continuity. Only in this way will we be able to break the vicious circle of unemployment levels that make us sadly leaders in Europe due to an economy that is too heavily based on services and an industry that is always lagging behind due to a shortage of skilled labour and, therefore, with difficulties in making progress in the technological field.