Friday, May 27, 2011

Young and restless in Spain as jobless rate soars

The first thing Silvia Huelves was told when she started studying architecture was that she should take up Chinese or Japanese - she was not going to build anything in Spain any time soon.

It wasn't criticism of her skills but a reflection on the state of the country, where the jobless rate among 16- to 24-year-olds is a staggering 45 percent and a construction sector slump caused nearly two years of recession.

Now the young people are protesting, roughing it out in improvised camps in the hearts of Spain's main cities to bring attention to their plight. Riot police clashed with protesters in Barcelona while trying to clear a plaza of people so it could be cleaned up, injuring dozens, according to news reports.

The protesters were allowed to move back in later. While the Spaniards demonstrating across the country are angry about lots of things, bleak job prospects and having to live with mom and mad well into adulthood are high on the list.

Huelves, a 19-year-old with a big smile, said her professors make no secret of the dire state of things.

"You go in and the first thing they say is 'forget about it, you are never going to build buildings,'" she said. "They say 'Architecture is really cool and well-rounded and useful for a lot of things, but you are not going to build buildings.'" (read more)