July 17th, 2012
05:19 PM GMT
Editor’s note: The Millennials are a generation that are constantly plugged in and moving fast to make their mark on the world. CNN’s Quest Means Business is tracking four of them. Here, CNN contributor and Millennial David Lloyd, with Jos van der Bij, a Dutch student doing an internship in London, write on the risks of mass unemployment.
(CNN) – Youth unemployment in the 1930s destabilized Germany and radicalized a resentful youth, propelling support for extremist parties.
The consequences are well known. Now, with European unemployment rising, we should be drawing on lessons from the past. It is nothing short of a tragedy that youth unemployment in both Greece and Spain has surged above the 50% mark.
To prevent a generation of young people being unable to find jobs and set themselves up with a secure future, it is essential to act now. The policy maker who does not heed the lessons of history is guilty of negligence on a massive scale.
Just like in the 1930s, when the Great Depression caused youth unemployment to hit the 50% levels in Germany, the current financial crisis is wreaking havoc on young people.
The new phenomenon of a global work force has resulted in a far more competitive job market. Perversely, widespread connections through internet and social media, coupled with the global embrace of consumerism, have raised young people's aspirations to all time highs, resulting in a devastating effect when reality hits.
Our experiences as an entrepreneur and student suggest adolescents are a group neglected by policy analysts and business thinkers.
Today's young people are tomorrow's leaders and the very people who have to create economic success and human security for the years to come.
It is a forward thinking government that takes into account its youth. Movements towards fascism and communism in Europe fueled Roosevelt's conviction that youth relief is a task for governments.
This resulted in the establishment of the National Youth Administration which assisted millions of young Americans by providing on-the-job training in the wake of the Great Depression.
Nationalist movements are simmering under the surface in Europe. The overwhelming emphasis on austerity is turning into a self-defeating and self-fulfilling prophecy. Some careful expansions of the state balance sheet are now necessary.
The NYA should be applied in a modern form, protecting Europe's youth from the vicious linear chain of discontent, despair and desperation. There is little in place now to assist as programs have done in the past.
Workplace training helps young people by bridging the gap between education and the workforce. Internships should be expanded by making them compulsory in school and university curriculums.
Just like some universities do in private form, young people from the poorest families should receive a public subsidy where internships are unpaid or lowly paid.
We have to push for such change: Because most importantly, doing something productive fills a young person with a sense of dignity and self-respect.