I’ve just come back from teaching debating to a group of Spanish schoolchildren in Madrid, along with fellow students from the University of Oxford. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and one which I would happily repeat. It was great to encounter the ideas of a group who were both intellectually curious and able.
Many of them will hopefully go on to university where they will learn the skills they need to be a part of a vibrant multinational economy. I felt privileged to be able to help teach them skills which will play a part in their becoming critical informed citizens, as well as making them more effective in whichever career they choose.
What I was struck by, however, was the divide between the hopes and aspirations of this highly capable new generation, and the persistent unemployment which pervades the Spanish economy. In the UK we argue about the best ways to reduce youth unemployment running at over 20%, but in Spain youth unemployment currently stands at 51.1%. This means that there are more Spanish 15 to 24 year olds without jobs than with them.
The backdrop to this, of course, is the current situation in the Eurozone and the effect of the financial crisis on the Spanish economy. With all of this, I had thought that the students might be despondent about their futures, but this was not the whole case: while they appreciate the the situation they are in, they remain determined and eager to succeed. I took this feeling of optimism with me as I returned to the UK, confident like those Spanish students that things will eventually improve.
He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.
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