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Cuestiones sociales – El paro en España

17 May 2017

In this month’s blog, I am going to talk about some of the social issues which have to be faced in the country in which I am currently living, so that would be Spain.

Firstly, a (una cuestión social) social issue is a (un problema) problem that influences a considerable number of the individuals within a society.

Now like every country, Spain has some very strong points in its society and some weaker ones. Unsurprisingly, some of the social issues that the country faces today are not unique to Spain, instead can be found all over Europe and the more-developed world.

The one which most actively affects the country today is unemployment (desempleo/paro). With the unemployment rate (la tasa de desempleo) as of December 2016 at 18.4%, lack of work in Spain is a real issue, especially compared with the average level of the European Union standing at 8.3% and the UK’s level at 4.7%.

Unemployment Rate in Spain compared to the UK and EU
Unemployment Rate in Spain compared to the UK and EU
(Eurostat, April 2017)

Again, I think it is important to discuss the historical background of some of these issues. Following the death of Francisco Franco and the reinstitution of a democracy in the country, Spain converted itself into a modern, liberal society. Then in 1986 after acceding (joining) the EU, the country quickly turned around its economy. There were many new jobs (empleos) and work (trabajo) in Spain, especially in the travel and tourism sector (El sector de turismo y viajes) and the construction industry (el sector de construcción). Unfortunately, both of these sectors of the economy highly rely on other people spending money, and when the recession (el crisis) hit in 2008, lots of workers (obreros) in these sectors lost their jobs as tourists just were not coming to Spain at the time, and people did not want new houses due to a lack of money (dinero).

Apart from people having less money to spend, unemployment has some other, follow-on issues on society, which are interesting to reflect upon. The first is that there is often an increase in (crime) criminalidad, as another UNADVISABLE way that some people use to have more money when they cannot work. Another interesting one is (a fall in the birth rate) una baja nadalidad of a country, this is because potential parents have less (available money) renta disponible to start raising a family, as the money earned has to be stretched further to llegar al fin de mes (reach the end of the month).

What is more of a problem in Spain, than overall unemployment, is Youth Unemployment, this is where those between the ages of 18-25, who are not studying, or have finished studying, find themselves without a job. In Spain, this rate currently stands at 42%, second only to Greece among the countries of the EU.

Unemployment rates of Under 25s in Spain an EU
Unemployment rates of Under 25s in Spain, Greece, the UK and EU (Eurostat, April 2017)

This has a negative effect on the Spanish school and university leavers through various reasons. One important one is la desmotivación, or lack of motivation. If there is a less than 60% chance of getting a job at the end of your studies, some Spanish people ask themselves, why study at all? Additionally, since many graduates are not able to support themselves financially once they have left school, many remain living with their parents far longer than British people of the same age. In Spain this is often referred to as: el retardo en la edad de emancipación (the delay of leaving the parent’s house). Finally, for those graduates who are able to find a job, this may be in another EU country, namely France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. The phenomenon of skilled or trained people moving en-masse from one country to another in order to find work is known as: la fuga de cerebros, or, the brain-drain.

However, I believe that some of these job finding issues could be resolved by introducing and encouraging Spanish youths to take on an internship or some work experience (practicas). Some of you may already have worked in part time, summer or weekend jobs, along with your school work and some of you may have already been on an internship. However, in Spain, as a combination of work/study culture, as well as the sheer lack of jobs, this idea is very rare. Most of the Spanish students I have spoken to replied that they do not do this, as they expect their parents to pay for everything until they find a job – I find this rather shocking!

What do you think could be some solutions to the problem of el paro en España

So, as always, it is the time for a vocabulary test! Please use the information in the post to translate these words and phrases into English: 

  1. Una cuestión social”
  2. Un problema (yes, it’s masculine)
  3. Desempleo/paro
  4. La tasa de desempleo
  5. Empleo
  6. Trabajo
  7. Bl sector de turismo y viajes
  8. El sector de construcción
  9. El crisis
  10. Obrero
  11. Dinero
  12. Criminalidad
  13. “Llegar al fin del mes”
  14. La desmotivación
  15. “La fuga de cerebros”
  16. Practicas (always in plural)

¡Hasta la próxima!