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COVID-19: Spain sees highest youth unemployment rate in EU as pandemic hits hard

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By Christopher Pitchers  & Laura Ruiz Trullols
COVID-19: Spain sees highest youth unemployment rate in EU as pandemic hits hard
Copyright  Euronews

Youth unemployment levels in Spain are the highest in the European Union, according to the bloc's figures.

The country was already experiencing worrying levels of unemployed young people, but the coronavirus pandemic has only served to exacerbate these figures.

Figures from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, show that youth unemployment in Spain stands at 41.7 per cent, which is 10 per cent higher than Italy, another country that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Júlia Partal, who has just graduated from a tourism and marketing course, said the pandemic has turned her future plans upside down.

“My plans were to find a part-time job and earn some money, whilst I was thinking what to do next and then, in February, to travel to Asia and study Chinese," she said.

"But at the moment it's difficult for me to find these kind of jobs because what I was thinking was to work in the tourism industry, like I did some years before or to work in la Sagrada Família or even in a museum."

With many young people facing similar situations in Barcelona, large numbers of them have attended the city’s job fair this week.

Before COVID-19, the situation was already critical. No other country in the EU has such a high number of temporary workers and job security is rare among the youngest generations. Improving their working conditions is a priority for Barcelona’s city council.

"They [young people] are not the only ones who have been impacted, but they are the ones who have received the most brutal impact, in a shorter period of time, and in a moment in which it can seriously harm their professional careers. It is right when they are starting to develop in the job market," Raquel Gil, Barcelona's commissioner for occupation and vulnerability, told Euronews.

"We need not only more funds but also better-oriented ones, I think we have to be very smart when it comes to targeting which sectors are going to help us to achieve the economic recovery. We need to promote sectors such as innovation, digitisation and the green economy," she added.

Experts, however, recommend investing in training new digital skills.

"For young people, who are used to learn new skills by themselves and surfing the internet all day, it is important that they make use of all the free content that can be found online. It is time to get training," Raül Sánchez, an innovation manager from Barcelona Activa explained.