FOCUS News Agency spoke with Mr. Krzysztof Pater, president of the Labor Market Observatory (LMO) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) about the labor market in Europe and the challenges facing young people
Focus: How Bulgaria is positioned in the overall picture of youth unemployment in Europe?
Krzysztof Pater: I can easily make such an assessment, as I often come to rest on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. I see hundreds of young people working very hard, who speak English, and are very well prepared. Seasonal work is a great opportunity for young people. When you look at the data they show that there is significant percentage - nearly 30% of youth unemployment in Bulgaria. But by taking these rates and compare them with 50% unemployment in Spain and we also considering the crisis, is seen that though the situation in Bulgaria is not so bad. Bulgaria has a chance in both agriculture and industry, especially in food production. It should be borne in mind the changing European legislation which applies to seasonal workers. Europe believes that seasonal workers can become permanent employees. According to European legislation there are fixed hours of work for seasonal workers. Now it is considering changing this fixed limit of hours. For example - before seasonal workers were not able to work more hours than what they were allowed, but now their workload is calculated on 12 months, not like before - on the actual months of seasonal work. This is done with a view to enable employers to hire seasonal workers for a long working time and a shorter period.
I want to say two things - first is the relationship between education and chances to find a job. I think all governments in Europe are obliged to make predictions and to influence universities to develop these areas of education, which will in future give young people more likely to be employed to avoid situations in which we have so many educated people who are three or more years after graduation looking for any job because they can not find suitable for their education. This is a waste of energy, a lot of money for education of young people. The second thing is again associated with these forecasts and important question here is - how many people with higher education are needed on the labor market. For example, in the last year in Europe we have increased the number of young people with higher education who are unemployed. This poses a risk of falling quality of education and increase the risk of unemployment among these well-educated young people. But my personal experience makes me am optimistic when I see young people in Bulgaria who work in the summer seaside resorts.
Focus: How many are the unemployed young people with higher education in Europe?
Krzysztof Pater: We observe an increase in unemployment among young graduates. And the next thing that is common to Europe, is that youth unemployment in most of Europe is twice higher than average unemployment. Surely this is not a stable trend, but shows the lack of monitoring of the correlation between education and the needs of the labor market. Such monitoring is required and must make an estimate. Entrepreneurs usually respond to this crisis not to disclose and not to assume additional risk as new jobs. They pressed workers, make them work more instead of hiring a new employee.
Focus: What measures can be taken in this direction?
Krzysztof Pater: We only report the situation. There is no explicit answer to this question. A few years ago Poland had a positive experience for three years when youth unemployment was reduced from 40 to 20%. It involved a lot of costs for public programs, and improvement of the employment services, which were activated to demand and offer more opportunities.