Young People and Unemployment

Elio Delgado Legon

Por Mengze Wu

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.

7 thoughts on “Young People and Unemployment

  • As ‘they’ say Bob, truth will out! Along with Noman you provide a wonderfully accurate description of the Cuban employment market!

  • Yes Noman, you are addressing the reality of life in Cuba for Cubans. As one with a very deep knowledge of agriculture, I can only add that in Cuba, the so-called ‘farmers’ are trying to exist rather than thinking of agriculture as a business. Unfortunately it is far more accurate to describe them as peasants.
    Similarly to your experiences Noman, I have a relative – a fit able young man, who works a 24 hour shift, and then has two days off. His wife is a school teacher and they have three children. I made sure that they now have a good home, but to see such people struggling to exist after fifty nine years of Castro lies and deception demonstrates the failure of the Stalinist type of communist system.
    You related an excellent description of the messy muddle that is today’s Cuba.

  • Right Moses!

  • The 3 previous comments are spot on. Elio is just nuts. His post does not reflect the reality in Cuba. It is as if he writes his articles completely unaware that they will be read by those who know the truth. Prior to the 1990s when Cuba was a relatively closed society, the articles that Elio had written would have been even then only marginally effective in shaping public opinion of Cuba as a near utopian society. But since the opening of Cuba to tourism which has allowed foreigners to travel to the island and see and experience for themselves the Cuban reality, the ability of Cuban propagandists to create the false image of the New Man has been effectively negated. This post, like a handful of Elio’s previous posts, simply make Elio look foolish. When Elio waxes nostalgic about pre-revolutionary Cuba, his posts are charming if not 100% accurate. But when he suggests that the youth employment situation in Cuba today is anything but a total disaster, he offends the intelligence of anyone who knows the truth.

  • And what about the less educated people??? Because, Elio, there are plenty of those around as well. Schools/Teachers in the “campo” are not nearly as good as in the city, and they aim to teach the “farmers” what they need to know (only the very excellent students are given an incentive to continue to become veterinarians, or do some other agrocultural study) since the Cuban government thinks they will just stay where they are and continue as farmers themselves! This law of not being able to get work outside of your own province is very helpful for that. As well as the cost for the clothes and travel (from campo to the nearest university) that the workers on farms can’t cough up.
    One of my friends latest jobs is working 12 hour shifts (2 day shifts, day free, 2 night shifts, day free) in a factory, being promised a salary of 500 CUP, receiving 150 CUP (yes for a full time job $6). He didn’t continue there for more than a month, after also being denied again to see the rights of the workers (which he was told verbally on starting this job), let alone copy them. It’s the only factory in the village where he lives, so he’s trying his luck as cuentapropista now.
    Other people I know in that region don’t fare much better. Relying on friends and family (both abroad and in Cuba) to survive. Or moving to another province and finding “illegal” work until they can buy themselves, or find a spouce to, get a change of residency, so the might be able to get another job (or at least have less hassle from the police and inspectors for having an ID from the “wrong” province)
    Some casa owners that I befriended, where lucky enough to have inherited houses they can use for this purpose. One of them is an actor (having a job only every know and then) and his wife studied economy (but can’t find another job). Another couple both started a casa after both being layed off after working for decades with some Cuban company and not being able to find new jobs.
    And then there the copious amounts of youths (and older people) either just hanging around on the street, trying to make a living collecting empty bottles and other stuff that they can sell, or just selling themselves.
    And lets not start about there being no discrimination in Cuba, because the colored Cubans for sure have a different experience than you, white Elio!
    So yeah right, there is no unemployment in Cuba. Sleep tight and dream on Elio!

  • I am with Carlyle this time. My work career taught me to rely on hard facts and personal observations rather than the taste of the Kool-Aid. I just know too many Cubans who are well educated but cannot find employment utilizing their education.

    I have a young friend in Havana who graduated from Univ of Havana with a degree in Computer Science two years ago. Employers clamor for such in most countries but he has been unable to find a job. He does e-mail responses and interface with booking agents for the casa particular his family owns. Actually the economic contribution from that is much greater than the dream job with ETECSA he always wanted.

    The cousin of my ex-girlfriend graduated from a German university with a degree in mechanical engineering. He is pushing 60 but has never had a real job since the sugar mill in their town closed as he was graduating. He lives off the graciousness of family, friends, and neighbors since he can repair or build anything.

    A friend and neighbor to where I stay in Havana was sent to prison for prostitution. Her term was 3 years or whenever she finished her bachelors degree. She got her degree after just under 2 years in prison and was released. She is now one of Cuba’s famous college degree’d prostitutes as she says she cannot support herself, her mother, and her son on any salaried job.

    My Cuban significant other graduated from the Univ of Holguin with highest honors. She was 32 and already had a long work history full of achievements including being named a National Vanguard as well as having books of her poetry published. Her only job offer after graduation was a clerk typist for the Poder Popular at a salary less than she was making before she entered the University. Ten years after graduation she worked her way up to managing a library system with 30 employees and 4 libraries. Her salary was 400 CUP ($16) a month. But a large part of her job was filling out detailed reports which few ever looked at. So I encouraged her to quit. Now she manages a large award winning project for the Ministry of Culture which is an unpaid position. Her official job is part time teaching poetry writing to young students for 100 CUP a month.

    So the Cuban government can say what they want. I just see and know far too many well educated Cubans who have no way to make use of their education.

  • Elio has reached a new low in misinformation (probably supplied by the Propaganda Department of the PCC) in suggesting that there is:

    “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.”

    So Elio, why is the economy stagnant?
    Where is the production?
    If there is full employment, why are fit young people lounging around in the residential areas all day long?

    As for claiming that Cuba doesn’t have discrimination, go tell that whopper to those mixed race couples stopped on the streets when going about their lawful business, by the State Police!

Comments are closed.