Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago, a news report that was taken from Telesur TV and published in the Cuban newspaper Granma got me thinking about a subject that we don’t generally worry about too much: youth unemployment.
The article, which was only a few short lines long, reflects a reality that we should all be worried about. It stated the following:
“On Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed that young people all over the world need more job opportunities.
As part of World Youth Skills Day, the diplomat highlighted the fact that young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.
He also emphasized the opportunity that day to think about how young people can gain the skills they need to drive innovation, emerging technologies and sustainability.
According to the organization’s own data, young people are constantly being exposed to poorer quality jobs than they deserve.
Meanwhile, the transition from studying to the workplace is normally much longer and uncertain than it should be in reality.
Guterres underlined the fact that young women were the most affected by this as they are underemployed and poorly paid a lot of the time, taking on part-time jobs or temporary contracts.
According to the statistics I managed to find, there are many reasons for youth unemployment, but poor training from education systems and the difficult time they have to acquire the skills they need for jobs figure among the most important.
In many countries, youth unemployment reaches alarming levels (up to 40 and 50%) and women are three or four more times likely to be unemployed than men.
In the article, there was a long list of both developed and developing countries that are suffering this scourge, which the UN’s Secretary-General is even concerned about. However, Cuba wasn’t included on this list because we have plenty of work in our country, for both adults and young people of both sexes. Instead of there not being any jobs, we don’t have enough people working in many sectors.
Young Cubans don’t need to worry about finding work because the Cuban education system (which as you know is free at every level) is obliged to place both high-school and university graduates in work schemes, depending on their speciality.
The lack of experience young people have isn’t a disabling factor to work, for two reasons: first of all, when studying, theory learning is combined with practical work at related workplaces. And a lot of the time, when they finish their degree, these same workplaces ask them to continue because they already know how they work; secondly, both companies and the public sector are obligated to train new graduates for a period of time so that they can gain necessary experience in a job position.
On the other hand, there are universities and high schools in every province that receive graduates in every specialist field, which serves as a database for job offers at education centers.
It might not be a perfect system, but the truth is that Cuba doesn’t have this problem that worries the UN Secretary-General so, or other problems that worry us all, such as discrimination because of gender, race and other factors in the workplace; and in the case of women, wages inferior to those of men for doing the same jobs.
All of this and much more form part of the Achilles’ heel of an already outdated system that refuses to disappear, but progressive people all over the world are convinced that a better world is possible and that we need to fight for it.