Spanish economy recovering but youth migration increases

Spanish economy recovering but youth migration increases

Can evoking entrepreneurialism in Spain hold the key in retaining young talent?

For nearly a decade, Spain’s people have suffered and nowhere has this been more prevalent than in the jobs market. Crippling unemployment rates have scarred those of all ages but the economic hardship felt by Spain’s youth has bloodied a generation.

Spain’s rather conservative and hierarchal society has not helped the situation. Young Spaniards find it difficult to find employment opportunities, especially as there’s a tendency in Spain in taking experience over the tenaciousness of youth.

It’s no surprise then that Spain is hemorrhaging young talent.

Although the economy is recovering – growth has been its fastest since the end of 2007 - in 2013, 547,980 people left the country; an 80% increase on that of 2012 and the majority of those migrating were young people.

Over the past year, the proportion of the Spanish population aged 15-39 has shrunk by 3.1%, or 477,851 individuals.

The sense of destitution among young people was perfectly captured in the largest and most comprehensive millennial survey conducted to date. The Global Millennial Survey found that more than half of young Spaniards believed that their country’s best days were behind them and highlighted areas like Asia as being the new drivers for economic growth.

These figures paint a worrying picture for Spain as it attempts to retain its young workforce - a key segment in securing a more prosperous future for the country. It is, however, these same young people who could ultimately reshape Spain in the long run.

“Entrepreneurship is synonymous with creativity and opportunity and that ensures a clear path towards employment and wealth creation.” Prince Felipe de Borbon of Spain, who has now succeeded his father to the throne, spoke during Global Entrepreneurship Week on the importance the country needs to place on entrepreneurialism as it, in his words, “ensures an increase in welfare and thus a better future for our country.”

Nearing 80% of Spanish millennials agree with this sentiment and believe that entrepreneurialism holds the key to their personal success and that of their country. The problem is that feedback from the GMS also showed that three-quarters of young people feel as if there’s little to no opportunity in becoming an entrepreneur.

So what can be done to change this?

At Telefonica, the company for which I work, I have had the opportunity to participate on initiatives like Think Big and Wayra, which support grassroots entrepreneurialism.

Think Big, Telefonica’s youth development programme, gives young people the money, support and confidence needed in pursuing their own ideas, while Wayra, Telefonica’s digital accelerator, turns these ideas into digital products and services for market.

The great thing about programmes like these is that they also involve Telefonia’s workforce. My colleagues and I have become mentors and guidedyoung people through their entrepreneurial journey, which in turn promotes good values and entrepreneurialism from within the business.

What I have to come realise through this process is just how important is to keep investigating new ways of building towards a more stable, dynamic and well-functioning economy. A great idea can come from almost anywhere and if Spain were to remove some of the cultural boundaries hampering youth, I think they’ll be surprised at the results.


Estefanía Arias Conde

Radio Access Network Engineer, Telefónica

This post has originally been published in the Telefónica Global Millennial Survey blog.



Chema Alonso

Chief Data Officer, Telefonica.