How countries are seeing the rise of ‘optimism at work’

The top two countries in the world for “optimism at work” are Panama and Venezuela, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra University has found. With that knowledge, recent history serves as a warning to the youth of Britain’s future.

Researchers sampled over 1,300 people over the age of 21 around the world and asked them to consider their work prospects. Unsurprisingly, respondents from Mexico, China and India showed most optimism about their job prospects – 80% or higher, depending on the country – while Italy, Greece and Nigeria showed some of the lowest levels of optimism.

About half of Latin American respondents said their parents felt they would have little chance of finding work if they went out and earned a living, showing the insecurity many youth face in countries like Venezuela. Conversely, around 85% of South Korean participants said they were confident they would find work if they entered the workforce.

People from the poorest countries expressed less optimism than those from the wealthier, pollsters say. The findings suggest that people are more likely to “up sticks” to other countries, working in ones where their work prospects are more secure and where a large proportion are optimistic about the future.

Interestingly, Mexico City scored the second highest overall optimism level for it’s young people. Ivan Zamora, professor at UniPro Pompeu Fabra University and lead author of the poll, says that can be partly attributed to the fact that “there’s not much choice” as employment in Mexico is highly concentrated in the cities.

Read: The unemployment crisis in the eurozone

But there is another, more worrying factor, which is cited in the poll results: greater levels of optimism within “better off” countries like Panama and Venezuela make it more likely the youth would emigrate if they could, just as Spain and Greece did prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

The same social phenomenon leads to a jobs crisis, which is evidenced in the dismal statistics for the wider population of young people in “better off” countries – particularly the French and German populations. These countries have an average of 2.8 young people unemployed for every job vacancy available, compared to just 2.6 in “good” (poverty-free) nations like Switzerland.

Efforts to save young people in the same situation by maintaining their education will go some way to solving the issue, says Zamora, but also suggests the root causes lie elsewhere.

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