One of the courses I am currently taking at Hamburg University is a German speaking course for exchange students. The class features students from all over the world telling each other about our home countries, and discussing different aspects, such as politics, economics, history and culture. I have many take-aways from the class, especially the fact that I seem to be the only one who readily criticises my own country, but the most important one so far is this: the worldwide unemployment crisis is weighing heavily on the minds of students.
As homework for the second week of our course we were instructed to research, and prepare, enough material to give a 7-8 minute talk about our country. We were to focus on things like geography, history, economics and politics etc. When we gave our talks, we split into groups of about 5, and made sure there were no two people from the same country in each group (there are multiple Spaniards, Americans and Australians etc.).
Without fail every single European student, and quite a few of the American students, expressed their concerns about unemployment in their countries, especially the youth unemployment. Many talked about friends who had graduated and were now working for the minimum wage/are part of the long-term unemployed. Many even claimed that the reason they kept studying was because there were no jobs for them, and they might as well spend their time unemployed attaining more skills/redirecting their skills into fields with better prospects. Overall the message was bleak.
Despite the fact that the media has largely lost interest in the unemployment crisis, and hardly spent any time specifically discussing youth unemployment, this is still an important issue. It is an issue that is particularly important to today’s youth, a.k.a the future working population. Most of us enrolled in higher education are studying so that we can better our job prospects, earning potential, or go into fields that interest us. If the youth feel that education will not necessary lead to a job, a better job, or a dream job, then we will likely see dwindling numbers enrolling in/finishing higher education, especially considering the high cost of higher education in many countries, such as the United States and Australia.
It is true that in most countries the unemployment level of those with college/university degrees are much lower than the average overall, however, businesses will almost always choose someone with experience over a freshly minted graduate. If students do not feel they can get a job immediately out of school, or will not be able to get a job in their field immediately out of school, we will likely see them either not enrol in university at all, drop out, or enrol in a different field. This will have remarkable effects further down on the line. This is a crisis of confidence we need to keep our eyes on.