When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Greece

European Decline: Is A University Degree Still Worth It?

Europe’s job seekers can expect tough years ahead. Cedefop, an EU agency, predicts slow employment growth will continue to come down disproportionately hard on the educated youth. Some are even asking if a university degree is still worth the time and mon

Students demonstrating last October in Florence (Collettivo Politico Scienze Politiche)
Students demonstrating last October in Florence (Collettivo Politico Scienze Politiche)
Florian Eder

BERLIN -- The euro crisis' impact on the job market will extend for at least the next decade, with only eight million new jobs expected to be created in the European Union between now and 2020. These are the central findings of a new report by the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), an E.U. agency headquartered in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Cedefop director Christian Lettmayr says eight million new jobs over a 10-year period is "very few," and warns that development could slow down even further. The job stagnation, which will be concentrated in southern Europe where millions of young people are without jobs, challenges a long-accepted assumptions about the benefits of pursuing a higher education.

Cedefop estimates that on average, college grads and skilled workers in the European Union have an easier time finding work than their less qualified counterparts. However, in 2020, only 37% of available jobs will require higher qualifications. "And the problem is that in countries with very high unemployment like Greece, Italy, and Spain, that figure would not apply," says Lettmayr. "In those countries, the differences are disappearing."

The Cedefop head sees an imbalance in E.U. countries between supply and demand as regards those with high levels of skill or education. "The highly qualified are pushing people out of jobs that they are over-qualified for."

There are very few winners in the situation – with the possible short-term exception of the employer who is getting more for less. Lettmayr fears that more and more people are reaching the conclusion that, over the space of a working life, there will be too little return to warrant the investment in education.

Lettmayr, however, warns against drawing hasty conclusions from this exceptional, crisis-induced situation and thus risk degrading entire regions to a second-class job market status. "Levels of education and qualifications have to be increased in the economically weak countries, and not – driven by austerity measures – made even worse," he says.

The present over-qualified generation should find encouragement, says Lettmayr, by not focusing solely on their own country but instead viewing all of Europe as one large job market. "A significant number of people in Greece who are presently training to be doctors, or engineers, or computer scientists, will find jobs in northern Europe." That goes for skilled workers too, albeit to a lesser extent, Lettmayr adds. The Austrian-born Cedefop director admits, nevertheless, that "Europeans willing to work in other countries are still relatively few and far between."

Problems for the production line

Unwillingness to relocate is not the only problem for Europe's job market. Another stumbling block is the fact that Europeans don't choose the subject they want to study based on demand in the jobs available in that sector, according to Cedefop. The average European, in other words, trains to be a hairdresser, a sales person, historian or expert in Romance languages with the knowledge (or perhaps in happy ignorance of the fact) that there aren't a lot of outlets out there for whatever his or her chosen field is.

"There's a disconnect between supply and demand," says Lettmayr. "Too few young people are studying engineering of various kinds, math, and natural sciences. That's a risk for economic development and for Europe's competitiveness."

In the first two years after the crisis exploded in 2008, 5.5 million jobs were lost in Europe. Not only is new job creation not going to redress that situation, but according to the Cedefop study, there will be a change too in how those jobs are distributed, with most new posts coming at the very top and very bottom of the job market spectrum.

The demand for general workers and support personnel is growing all over Europe – less in construction or car manufacturing than in health care: aging societies are beginning to impact the job market. Jobs requiring middling levels of education or skills are the ones losing out.

The E.U. agency sees the demise of the production line: "The ones really losing out in Europe are those with jobs based in routine. There is less and less call for production line workers," says Lettmayr.

The number of new jobs in machinery and assembly of all kinds will diminish, according to Cedefop. That also goes for office work. Secretarial and clerking jobs should decrease by a good 1.5 million in Europe by 2020 – only outdone by the decrease in manual labor jobs expected to go down by some 2 million.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Collettivo Politico Scienze Politiche

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ