Last week, Dutch politicians Pechtold and Krol proposed a motion to make the job market a nicer place for people over 50. Nicer at whose expense, though?
A brief look in the Oxford English Dictionary will tell you that solidarity is a two-way street, but this word is increasingly being used to refer to a state of affairs where one isolated group benefits at the expense of everyone else. More job opportunities for people over 50, less for people under. Even though younger workers provide cheaper labour, and providing them with more room on the job market will give the Netherlands a stronger competitive position in the long run. And a more competitive knowledge economy, for when the world economy gets back on its feet again. Thus ensuring that Krol and his middle-aged voter base can fully enjoy their old age.
This year, the unemployment rate among young adults in the Netherlands is 25% higher than last year. If it’s left up to this retired member of parliament, that percentage will be through the roof by next year.
You can ask Spain what happens if our policy makers forget to include young adults and students in their purchasing power statistics (which, by the way, didn’t include forecasts for independent contractors either — not exactly a marginal group in the Netherlands, one would think). One in two Spanish young adults is unemployed, and it will take over 10 years for Spanish unemployment rates to return to their level before the crisis started. A lost generation with no work history, job experience or education.
Insurance fees are currently rising the most rapidly for young adults, the pacing of college education is starting to take on a McDonalds-esque feel, and in the meantime, the Krol generation has managed to make unemployment benefits unattainable as well to the ones who have to depend on that McEducation; an employee who starts working in 2014 at the age of 25 will need to work for 38 years, until two years before what used to be retirement age, in order to build up enough work history to be entitled to two years of unemployment benefits at a maximum. At this moment, if you end up unemployed, you are still entitled to three months of unemployment benefits on the condition that you’ve worked at least 26 weeks during the 36 weeks prior to your unemployment.
Being a student in the Netherlands is starting to look increasingly Spanish as well. As a Spanish student, you’re not entitled to our basic scholarships either, you’re not getting on the bus without buying a ticket and even getting to study at all doesn’t remotely offer promising perspectives for getting a job.
And yet it’s not the unemployment among our young, nor our old populace that poses the greatest threat to our job market, but the labour shortage we’re rapidly heading towards. 1.2 million vacancies, and no one to fill them. And now, let’s really get back to business.