Eighty Five Zero

According to the International Labour Organization’s 2013 report on global employment trends for youth, a slowly recovering global economy has aggravated a crisis in jobs to the point where many young people are giving up on a job search altogether. Low security, temporary or part-time employment has become a staple of young job seekers and unemployment has risen to almost a quarter of the young population in the European Union.

The term NEET is additionally used to categorise those “not in employment and not in any education or training” who, being disengaged from both work and education, are at a higher risk of labour market and social exclusion. Often this carries a sense of isolation and possibly other negative social effects. Therefore, the Eurofound takes the view that the term NEET draws attention to the multifaceted nature of disadvantage and is related to the consequences of social and political marginalisation of youth. Currently, in the European Union, approximately one in six young persons are without a job and not in education.

1985-00 delimits a generation and our interlocutors are young persons who find themselves facing the difficulties and dilemmas of the current European social and economic crisis. They are members of a multicultural generation who were born or grew up within a borderless Europe which nonetheless many times excludes them from the centre stage of social and political agency.

(Lisbon, 2014)

February 2014. Inga, 30, outside her former home in Lisbon. She moved to Lisbon to live with her boyfriend in early 2011. The two and a half years they spent there were filled with many precarious, short-term, and underpaid jobs. Her time in Lisbon ended with six months straight of not being able to find any employment at all. They had to give up their home because they couldn’t pay the rent any longer. This forced her to decide to abandon her plans there. She returned to her home town of Vila Real, in the North of the country, and moved back in with her mother, where she has been staying while trying to start her own business to support herself.

February 2014. Vanessa, 21, Moita. “This picture was taken at a park where i spent a lot of time with my boyfriend when we first started dating. We would often come here to do some jogging or just simply to hang out. To me, it’s a very peaceful place where i can think or just enjoy some quiet time.” Vanessa has a BA in Marketing and Communications and is currently seeking her first employment.

“I still haven’t quite understood what it should be to be young these days. At 30, without work, without home, without a future, we are called the “young unemployed”, “lazy”, “pessimists.” But what is someone in their twenties with nothing but precarious employment? Those jobs that eat away at our soul? Work that treats us as slaves? Do they have a better future? We are numbers. We are nothing! This generation’s life, and the next, is mortgaged, postponed.” – Inga

“I usually spend five hours a day online, sending CVs, on Facebook talking to people, trying to make some contacts to help my projects move forward.”

“I wake up in the morning, have my breakfast, and then go to the computer to look for job ads and to send CVs. I think I must spend somewhere around six hours every day in front of the computer.”

“Quitting is not part of my vocabulary!” – Vanessa

February 2014. André, 27, Barreiro. Graduate in Social Services from Lusófona University, Lisbon. He graduated top of his class, followed by a curricular internship working with a child protection service which he also concluded with distinction, and some volunteer work. He has since been unable to find any paid work placement or opportunity. Leaving the country is an option he wouldn’t like to consider, although Brazil comes up in conversation as a possible destination where to find work and possibly doing a master’s degree to further is education. The biggest problem, though, is to “fall into a mind-set of depression, disillusionment and lack of faith in ourselves, to cast a shadow of adversity on ourselves.”

April 2014. Cláudio, 25, in his bedroom in Almada, near Lisbon, where he lives with his parents. He hasn’t finished the last year of high school yet as he started to work while still in school. He works at a transport company unloading clothing shipments for an international clothing brand. According to him, it is a well-paid job but very irregular. He works only on those days when he is called in, usually once a week and occasionally more in peak seasons. Other days he spends a big part of his time on the computer, at least 5 or 6 hours a day except when he is called in for work. Snooker, jogging and riding his bike make up the rest of his regular routines.

Almada is a medium sized town just south of Lisbon on the left bank of the Tagus. Up until the seventies it was an expanding industrial suburb of Lisbon. Home to large weaving, cork and naval industries, the town grew in population. Beginning in the 90s, the town started to experience major infrastructural development. After the closing of the naval shipyards, industrial areas were rehabilitated as new residential areas with added investment in public transportation, urban planning, public parks, and cultural venues. Today the town hosts the second largest centre of universities in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area with seven university campuses and is heavily changing its socio-cultural profile.