Combining work and study is always a complicated endeavor, but in Spain it seems particularly so. It is one of the developed countries with the lowest rate of young people who do both, ranking seventh from last according to the latest 2011 figures released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): only 4.7 percent of 15-to-29-year-old students also hold a job, compared with the OECD average of 11 percent. In the college student age range of 20 to 24 this figure rises to 6.8 percent, yet remains similarly far from the average of 13.4 percent.
Why does Spain post such low work-study figures? Gara Rojas, an analyst at the OECD, mentions the most obvious reason — the soaring jobless rate of 27 percent, which reaches 57 percent among young Spaniards — but also points at cultural issues.
"It´s not just because of the crisis; there appears to be a cultural factor at play as well. In other countries it is more common to work while you study. This may be because in other countries both the job market and the education system help you reconcile both activities," explains Rojas in an email.
Beyond classic options such as distance education, university programs certainly do not seem to favor reconciling the two very much. And now, with the adaptation of Spanish degree courses to European standards, greater class attendance and dedication are demanded.
"For instance, a full course for an economics diploma entails coursework of 30 to 40 hours a week, both in class and outside of it," says Julián Moral, an economics professor at Madrid´s Autónoma University. Moral notes that students have the possibility of enrolling part-time, but that "does not reduce the total number of credits, which results in a longer study period, making it less attractive when the student is contemplating going on to graduate studies."
It is worth remembering that Spaniards are the Europeans who wait the longest to move out of their parents´ house: on average, they leave the nest at age 29, according to a 2012 study by the FAD foundation and Caja Madrid. This is partly because of job insecurity and lack of subsidies, but also due to cultural reasons that the FAD report described as "a family-focused context."
Source: El País