Jordi Battlo cannot say with certainty how many job applications he has sent to companies in recent months. Many, hundreds. “I have stopped counting,” says the 24-year-old from Barcelona.

Refusals have become a sad routine for the commercial engineer. “The lack of responses from companies makes me feel that nothing I have accomplished counts,” says Battlo. After successfully completing his master’s degree at Madrid Business School, a university specializing in business administration, he landed a position as an intern in short term, to finally ended up unemployed.

Generation Z: youth at the crossroads

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FOLLOWING

Fewer hires in the pandemic

Battlo is one of millions of European university graduates seeking employment in a crowded job market. According to data from the European Statistical Office (Eurostat), the youth unemployment rate in the European Union (EU) is 17 percent, more than double the general rate.

In October 2020, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned that an entire generation is at risk of being left behind in the job market. During the pandemic, many companies not only stopped hiring, but layoffs also increased.

Giorgia Burns, a 23-year-old Irish girl, completed her master’s degree in business management at University College London in September 2020 and is faced with the same reality as Battlo. “When I finished my degree I thought, ‘Well, when I have my degree I will find a job.’ But then the pandemic started and now I do a part-time internship and collect minimum wage,” says Burns.

More job applications

Battlo thinks that jobs have become inaccessible for many college graduates: “There are twice as many applications for each position as before. Even for entry-level jobs, candidates with two or three years of experience apply.”

Employers confirm this development. “The number of applications has increased massively,” Oliver Zischek, head of the human resources department at Deloitte Germany, tells DW. In the fall of 2020, the consulting firm received 42 percent more applications than the previous year. According to Zischek, a similar situation is observed in all Deloitte subsidiaries in Europe.

Difficulties in finding a job affect the mood of young people. According to a survey carried out in 2020 by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the European Youth Forum, 50 percent of young people worldwide show symptoms of anxiety and depression.

A despondent generation

Giorgia Burns is also finding it increasingly difficult to maintain hope. Find comfort by talking with friends who are in similar situations. “It really helps to be able to exchange views with someone who understands what it means to live this,” says Burns. Experts estimate that the problems of this generation could have long-term consequences. “They always tell us that everything will be normalized. But the risk of losing an entire generation is not temporary,” Silja Markkula, president of the European Youth Forum, an NGO based in Brussels, tells DW. She fears that in the future the salary of young people could decrease, and with it, optimism.

Author: Marie Sina

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