According to a survey conducted by the National Statistics Institute, there are some 4.8 million young people living in Romania, aged 15 to 34.
According to a survey conducted by the National Statistics Institute in the second quarter of the year 2016, there were some 4.8 million young people living in Romania, aged 15 to 34. Half of them were employed at the time of the survey, which doesn't necessarily mean that they had a stable job. It means that they had worked at least one hour per week and were paid for that. Some three quarters of them were full-time salaried employees, mainly in services (50%), industry and construction (28%) and agriculture (21%). Vladimir Alexandrescu, a spokesperson for the National Statistics Institute, told us that the situation of those who work in agriculture is not very bright.
Vladimir Alexandrescu: "Working in agriculture means, most of the time, working in subsistence households. Of course, agriculture and rural life does have a modern part too, but, generally speaking, this too is organized as a family structure, which means that they produce only to cover the basic consumption needs of a small, family-type group. Statistically, these people too are classified as employed. But if we look at the deeper reality, their social and economic contribution is lower than what they could have accomplished had they had the possibility to work in more developed agricultural enterprises, like the farms in Western Europe or the US."
Also, at the time of the survey, more than 2.3 million young people were inactive, and 270,000 were unemployed, meaning that they were trying to find a job or used to be part of Romania's work force at one point. The others were still in school. Besides them, some one million young people, accounting for 19.9% of the population targeted by the survey, and 28% of those who had completed a form of education, were neither working, nor enrolled in the formal education system. According to Mihai Dragos, president of the Youth Council in Romania, these figures reflect a real tragedy.
Mihai Dragos: "Other studies show that, if young people stay inactive for more than 4 months, consequences could be serious, in the sense that they will have less stable jobs, employment will alternate with unemployment, they will find it more difficult to advance in their careers and will accept smaller salaries".
One of the main causes of school dropout is poverty, and 53% of school children do not go past secondary education. Two out of five Romanian young people believe that high school is enough in terms of education, even though higher education graduates have a much easier time finding a job. 49.3% of the young people who had a job at the time of the survey had got it by applying directly to companies or institutions, while 28.8% found their jobs through relatives or friends.
Mihai Dragos: "As regards employment, it is interesting that around 30% of them get a job through relatives or friends. In the western countries, this networking is important too. Having a network of acquaintances, knowing people, having connections, employers included, can be useful."
On the other hand, those who manage to get employed or get a form of paid work, are not very willing to travel long distances in order to improve their situation. Only 3.8% of the young people who were working, aged 25 to 29, had decided to change their place of residence in order to get that job. At the same time, only 20% of the unemployed youth said they were willing to move to find a better job.
Vladimir Alexandrescu: "Mobility has a double meaning, we are talking about the mobility of the already employed, as well as the mobility of the job seekers who could get a job in places other than the one they live in. At the same time, the fact that so many young people go abroad, far away from their country, seems to contradict this. The most active and highly-skilled young people don't seem to mind working anywhere. They are willing to take a job thousands of kilometers away from home."
But how would a youth representative explain this situation? Here is Mihai Dragos once more:
"Young people are rather reluctant to move away from home to work. But this has something to do with the state's housing policies too. Does the state help young people find a place they can afford? And here I'm referring to the minimum wage too. It is difficult for someone working for the minimum wage to pay 150 to 200 Euro a month for rent, in a city where they have to get by with a salary of approximately 330 Euro. It's simply unaffordable to move if you have such a low income."
This is the reason why youth organization representatives believe that the youth situation should be addressed by public policies, starting with a better correlation between the education system and the labor market, in addition to incentives for increased mobility, as well as paid internships in public and private organizations.