EMA ZELIKOVITCH, a 24-year-old philosophy graduate in Madrid, takes a deep breath before listing the jobs she has held over the past few years. While at university she worked as a dance teacher, waitress, street fund-raiser for NGOs, call-centre operator and greeter at political conferences for Podemos, a far-left party. Since graduating she has juggled jobs at two restaurants, but one recently sacked her. Every job was on a temporary, or “fixed-term”, contract. And while some paid her a living wage, none came with a path to promotion.
Dead-end, fixed-term jobs have haunted southern Europe for decades. In 2015 over half of employed 15-to-29 year olds in Spain were on temporary contracts, compared to two-fifths in Italy and just under a quarter in Greece; the average across the European Union is 14% (see chart 1).