أوروبا وفخ منتصف العمر

كمبريدج ــ أخيرا، أدرك صانعو السياسات الأوروبيون شدة المشكلة المتمثلة في تهميش الشباب. ولكن في الأفق تلوح كارثة اجتماعية أخرى لم يعترفوا بها بعد. والمشكلة هذه المرة هي العمال في منتصف العمر الذين أصبحوا قاب قوسين أو أدنى من المعاناة.

وقد يبدو هذا مثيراً للدهشة، لأن الظاهر يوحي بأن العاملين في منتصف العمر هم الفائزون في النظام القائم اليوم. فالعاملون في أواخر الأربعينيات وأوائل الخمسينيات من عمرهم يتمتعون بوظائف مستقرة ويسيطرون على النظام السياسي وهم أقل تأثراً بالركود الاقتصادي مقارنة بزملائهم الأقرب إلى سن التقاعد.

وعلاوة على ذلك فقد تمكن العاملون في منتصف العمر في أوروبا بفضل الحواجز العالية التي تحول دون دخول سوق العمل والفوائد المرتبطة بالأقدمية والقيود الصارمة المفروضة على فصل الموظفين من الحفاظ حتى على وظائف محتضرة ــ وهو الوضع الذي ساهم إلى حد كبير في تهميش الشباب. ووفقاً لتقارير منظمة التعاون الاقتصادي والتنمية فإن البطالة بين الأوروبيين الذين تتراوح أعمارهم بين 45 و54 سنة ارتفعت في الفترة من 2008 إلى 2012 من 5.2% إلى 7.7%، في حين قفزت البطالة بين الشباب من 15% إلى 21.4%. وبحلول نهاية عام 2013، أصبح نحو أربعة ملايين شخص بين سن الخمسين والرابعة والستين عاطلين عن العمل، مقارنة بنحو ستة ملايين عاطل بين الشباب الذين تتراوح أعمارهم بين 18 و24 سنة.

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