OPINION – On youth jobs

Youth policy is not among the usual topics in this column. In fact, I often view youth policies with some suspicion. I tend to believe that a solid, diversified e open education system, providing young people with the opportunities, skills, and thinking tools they need to make up for their lives, is the best and possibly only ‘youth policy’ worth of consideration.

Beyond that, they tend to be superficial and paternalistic, often in ways that fail to buttress youngsters’ sense of responsibility and autonomy. But this reasoning is leading these lines well beyond the matter that brings them up.

Last week youth employment issues called my attention, following an official press release – the one relating to the Youth Council’s plenary meeting, to be more precise. The agenda included reporting on activities to help youth ’employability’ (a good education springs again to mind), a socially and economically relevant topic.

Unless the official press release and the media missed something else, we are dealing with a program for short-term (3 months) subsidized internships in companies, and an ’employment fair,’ organized in August. The reporting is, however, disappointing. 

In the first case, we are told practically nothing about the number or nature of the internships. No other significant information is provided, be it either numbers or evaluation conclusions. What type of internships were on offer, what skills they required, how many young people were involved, how were costs shared between the companies and the public coffers are just a few of the issues we should look into. Further, what kind of evaluation was done? Did it produce the expected results, assuming these were clearly defined at the outset? These are essential questions to appraise the initiative, its impact, and if it is to be repeated, to perfect whatever might be found wanting. 

About the employment fair, we get marginally more detailed information. There were 3000 job offerings and 4200 visitors. No characterization of the job openings or the composition of the visitors was provided. Again, an evaluation of the results achieved would be pertinent. How many job matches were registered? Is there a profile? Do they tell us anything about the labor market’s state or the employment prospects in the region? 

Such information is indeed relevant in economic and social terms and for policy formulation. Hopefully, the council members got it and will give it fair use. Unfortunately, it was not shared. Can one ask?