The Impact of the COVID-19 Recession for Europe Youth

Today we are all living in an unusual time and witnessing a pandemic crisis which has given us full of uncertainty and insecurity. During better days, we used to preach for the importance of avoiding being overly consumed into the virtual world – whereas now the virtual world is the one that is keeping us going. In the series of working remotely, doing an online internship, joining online discussions, CTP Master classes and meetings, on May 26 I joined an online event from European Youth Event 2020 discussing the new economic recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on young people. The topic of the discussion was relevant and crucial during these days of uncertainty we are living through, and especially for the new generation of the world, the youth.

This panel was focused on the European Union Institution perspectives and solutions about the unemployment of youth during this crisis. European Commission was represented by Max Uebe who is the Head of Unit Employment Strategy, the European Parliament was represented by the Spanish MEP and Frederic Piccavet, the Board Member of social and economic inclusion of the European Youth Forum. The discussion was focused on the solutions on how to reduce the higher number of youth unemployment especially during this pandemic crisis. The panelists did not focus in concrete policies or steps taken by European Institutions rather they gave short overviews of the situation of youth unemployment as it is a matter of competencies of their respective institutions and the primary responsibility of tackling the unemployment of young people lies within the Member States. When it comes to European Council support, it could be achieved primarily through the exchange of experiences and financial support.

It is true to say that not every European Country has experienced this crisis the same way, even though it has affected each and every country, since their epidemiological situation, as well as financial situation and the economic policies undertaken are a crucial element to take into account. The three speakers representing different levels of European Institutions agreed on ground points which lead to youth unemployment. Youth unemployment is one of the issues that the European countries and the aspiring candidate countries face, while now Covid-19 has accelerated the situation making the youth pay the highest price of this pandemic crisis. Young people are considered to never be skilled enough for jobs and end up getting temporary, bad, and unequal jobs.

Are we, as the youth, capable of surviving this pandemic crisis?

In the end of the session, one of the advice that the panelists gave was to try to use this time to come out stronger out of this crisis. They gave examples of many youngsters who have used this unusual time to grow new hobbies and talents by educating themselves. This advice sent me back to one of the readings from Viktor Frankl in Chapter 2 of the Certified Training Program  on the “Experiences in Concentration Camps.”

“Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress” …. even under the most difficult circumstances—to add deeper meaning to his life, it may remain brave, dignified and unselfish.”  

During the total lockdown time of a passive life, we must remain brave, courageous, and mindful that a life waits for us and that a brighter future is ahead of us.  It is time to strengthen our skills and prepare to come stronger out of this uncertain and unusual time we are going through.

Published: July 27, 2020
Written by Ermelinda Gjeci, a WYA Europe intern from Albania