First job opportunity or cheap labour exploitation?


Author: Nada Percan, 25 year old linguist, creative writer and new media ambassador from Croatia. Loves to travel, read, write, sing, draw, cook. Currently writing a thesis about South Slavic languages.”

Follow her on Twitter @nadica92


People are often in the habit of saying that everything is easier when you are young. You’re a happy person, you don’t have any serious responsibilities, and you have internal and external freedom. But they are not considering the fact that in some places on the earth ‘youth’ has become synonymous with ‘unemployment’. Croatia is the youngest EU member. A country that today also boasts a youth unemployment rate of more than 50%.

It is almost superfluous to explain the bad aspects of being unemployed, those are probably well known to many of us: living with parents, not having a chance to travel due to lack of money, not being able to experience things that are at the heart of European values.

Stuck in the iron cage of your golden country.

Since this is one of Croatia’s biggest issues, the government is trying hard to decrease the unemployment among young people. As part of this plan the Ministry of Labour and Pension System passed a law on employment stimulation, so from now on every young person can have vocational training for work without employment.

What does vocational training for work without employment provide? internship photo for nada

A one year paid internship which counts as a work experience, paid transportation costs and the possibility of taking a state exam after the internship is completed, a requirement for admission to the civil service. Unfortunately, the pay is lower than minimum wage and once the internship is complete, there is no certainty of a permanent job or any job at all. In June this year the Ministry stated that the majority of interns are young people, 5071 of them are aged 15-24 and 5294 are aged 25-29. The latest sources say that 60% of the interns found a “real job” after their internships.

When it comes to vocational training, the young people in Croatia are ambivalent. Some of them believe the training is a great opportunity to improve skills acquired while studying and also an experience to prepare young people for “real life”, while others think the training is an exploitation of cheap labour. Both, however, agree that these work opportunities are simply a smokescreen to hide huge unemployment rates

“To be honest, I was only interning because I could not find a job for a long time after receiving my master diploma. And I think it was a really great opportunity because it has provided me work in the profession. It is not stressful and you can still learn a lot.”

“I would not want to intern. The money you get is not enough for a normal life. You cannot call that a job. It is just a window dressing for the unemployment statistics. Besides, I think we are capable of earning more money in a shorter period by taking other opportunities.”

Even though there are many young interns in Croatia today, unemployment seems to be increasing. In April this year there were 355,598 jobless people. So, some fresh graduates are deciding to be part of the vocational training system and others are deciding to find different opportunities, such as working abroad or finding a seasonal job. Highly educated youth in Croatia are mostly stuck between two choices: to work in a badly-paid profession for a year or to try their luck searching for a job in other part of the world. Can we call that a choice at all or is it just a masquerade of liberty. I leave it to you to think about.“


3 thoughts on “First job opportunity or cheap labour exploitation?

  1. Hello Neverin, thanks for the comment.
    Everyone has their own opinion, but I mostly agree with the second quote in the text above. There are so many opportunities all around the world, so why spending time on a badly-paid experience?
    I also agree with you – young people are making coffees, they are washing dishes etc. even though they are highly educated. And that wouldn’t be such a problem if they were well-paid for it. I wouldn’t mind working in any kind of profession as long as they are paying me well. But the truth is: no salary is high enough to live a normal life in Croatia.
    So, we basically have to choose between some hard physical job, such as waitressing and a brain drain. What’s your choice?

  2. My opinion is that the “offer” of one-year stage paid 1600 kn (210 euros) it’s highly immoral because it’s taking the opportunity for the graduated people to take job because the institutions and the privates are taking fresh graduated people and once that the stage is finished they took someone else without employing everyone for real. Often the young are doing jobs that are not provided with their degree, such as making coffee fort the people who ultimately exploited them as free labor force. These buying of time of the government will bring the inevitable escalation of the situation with demonstrations or departures of the young people in other countries which Croatian education lose all the capital that is invested in them, starting from elementary school to college.

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