Spain has the highest youth unemployment in the European Union

by Lorraine Williamson
youth unemployment

MADRID – Despite the fact that youth unemployment has fallen sharply in recent years, Spain is still the sad leader with the highest youth unemployment in Europe (11.2%). 

This is evident from figures on youth unemployment in the EU in 2022, which were published on Wednesday by the European statistical office EUROSTAT. The youth unemployment rate of 11.2% was measured among young people between the ages of 16 and 29. Even in countries such as Greece (with a youth unemployment rate of 10.6%), Portugal (6.8%) and Italy (7.4%), on average more young people are at work. 

Europe average decline 

The countries with the lowest youth unemployment in Europe are the Czech Republic (2%), Germany (3.3%) and Bulgaria (3.3%). The average youth unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in Europe on average. This is the lowest figure since Eurostat started measurements in 2009. 

Good grades 

The figures are striking, because the Spanish economy and labour market are showing very good figures. Overall unemployment in Spain dipped below 2.8 million in April this year for the first time since 2008. Unemployment among young people under the age of 25 fell sharply in April, probably due to the recovery of the tourism sector. 

Cogesa Expats

Also read: Spain not attractive to young people 

Better than in 2013 

However, Spain has made progress in the past ten years. In 2013, amid the financial and economic crisis, one in four young people between the ages of 16 and 29 in Spain was out of work. Since then, youth unemployment has fallen significantly. Even during the corona crisis, which severely affected Spain, those poor figures from 10 years ago were no longer tapped. 

Stubborn problem 

But despite this improvement, youth unemployment in Spain remains a persistent problem. This mainly concerns people under the age of 25. Previous Eurostat figures for 2022 confirmed this. Of the 20 worst-performing European regions in terms of youth unemployment, 10 were in Spain. This mainly relates to areas where the tourism sector is important, such as the Canary Islands and Andalucia. In 2023, those figures are better for the time being, but the high dependence on tourism makes those areas vulnerable to a new crisis. 

Education does not match the labour market 

Experts cite several reasons why unemployment among young people is so high in Spain in particular. An important reason put forward is that education is not well suited to the labour market. Many young people do not have the right basic qualifications or are overqualified. There is a shortage of practically trained personnel. The school dropout rate in Spain is also relatively high. 

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