Lotta Schneidemesser (25, Germany)
“You can consider yourself to be very lucky to do an internship in our company. We have chosen you from a large number of applicants because of your qualifications.” I was told this on my very first day of my internship. And naturally I was very happy to hear it. But: I am working full time, there is no perspective for a job afterwards – and the internship is unpaid.
The term “Internship Generation“(dt. “Generation Praktikum”) is not a new one – it has been circulating in the media for quite some time now, and it characterises me and my generation. But the consequences that this way of dealing with a whole generation could have for our society are, in my opinion, not taken serious enough.
Have you ever asked yourself what it means to a young person if the society he lives in makes it clear that his abilities are not needed? That there is no place for him in the society he lives in? That he is a “problem”?
Have you forgotten who we are? That we are a part of society, too? It seems you have. However: We are not a problem – but your Future!
To cut a long story short: There has been much debate and talk about the issue of “Lost Generation” or “Internship Generation” – but nothing is being done! When president Obama visited Berlin last week, he also addressed the subject of youth unemployment and warned of the consequences of a “Lost Generation” for our society. He underlined the freedom that is granted by a free market economy – but also that this freedom is accompanied by social responsibility: Namely, the responsibility to integrate young people into society and into the labour market.
At the beginning of June, a discussion between young Europeans and the German minister of finances, Wolfgang Schäuble, took place in Berlin, entitled “The Future is US”. In this discussion, the problem of youth unemployment was raised as well and became the major issue of the debate. A young Spanish women stood up and directly asked Schäuble what he had to say to her and other young Europeans on this topic. His answer was: “Be mobile and flexible. Leave your home. Go to another country.“
He made it very clear that in his opinion, we are responsible for ourselves and should not demand help from others or hold him or anyone else responsible. Clear words – but is this really an acceptable solution? Or does this demand actually exceed a limit? Mobility and flexibility in the labour market are certainly very important – but if one leaves his home country and there is no perspective of being able to return in the near future, because there is no work and no proper jobs – what then?
In the first article of our Constitutional Law it is written that “The human dignity is inviolable.” But if a human being is not granted a place in the society he lives in; if it is made clear to him that he is not needed. If, like here in Germany, one has got a right to unemployment benefits – but not a right to employment. Then the human dignity of a person is violated.
What a human being needs in order to live, what we need in order to stay physically and mentally healthy and to become upright and full members of the society we live in is: Work and Employment. This is what constitutes human dignity. And human dignity is inviolable – Isn’t it ?!