The latest youth unemployment figures released by the European Commission inspired a rather melodramatic announcement by Dipa, urging the government to make the tackling of the issue a priority. In Cyprus youth unemployment was 18.6 per cent, higher than the EU average which was 14.5 per cent; Greece has the highest youth unemployment in the Union, close to 30 per cent.

In keeping with the political establishment’s socialist thinking that wants the state to take a lead role on economic matters, Dipa demanded “corrective measures” by the government. These included as “the creation of additional incentives for hiring unemployed youth, the opening of new professions by law and the creation of more opportunities for the employment of youth.”

The party also made practical suggestions such as the strengthening of “professional orientation in secondary education” as well as the “technocratic linking of the country’s education with the labour market and future labour needs.” It also highlighted the need to develop skills in schools, “especially the so-called soft skills and emotional intelligence that will become useful tools for our children.”

Have we abandoned the idea of encouraging critical thought, which everyone paid lip service to until recently, and will demand that schools focus on developing soft skills and emotional intelligence? The politicians like to come up with nice-sounding ideas, but they ignore the most basic thing – teaching youth the value of hard work, the importance of effort in achieving things, both at school and later in life.

What public schools are failing to develop is the work ethic, and parents have become part of the problem. The relentless campaigning against the twice-yearly exams and reduction of the curriculum is indicative of the malaise. First, students complained about this because they did not want to work too hard at school and the parents’ associations fully backed them. And the government has announced plans to satisfy these demands, indicating that it does not value hard work at public schools either.

As for Dipa’s suggestions of incentivising businesses to hire unemployed youth and the opening of new professions, this is nothing more than hollow rhetoric. There are plenty of jobs for youth – special arrangements have been made to hire third country nationals because of labour shortages – but the problem is that many youths do not want to do them, either because they involve hard work and shift work or because they all want to be employed by the state – an undemanding employer who rewards minimal effort. Unfortunately, not all work-shy youths can be employed by the state.

There is no shortage of jobs, as Dipa suggests, to explain the relatively high rate of youth unemployment. There are plenty of jobs on offer, which the young refuse to do but it is not the state’s responsibility to create jobs for them. All the state can do, through education, is instill the work ethic, which many of our youths seem to shun.