Entitled the “Employment Law for Productive Youth”, the new legislation was passed during an act attended by young activists celebrating the revolution’s electoral triumph in the presidential elections of October 7th 2012, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez
“In the name of Commander Chavez, in the name of our martyred legislator, Robert Serra, I hereby sign the Law for Employment and Productive Youth, via the enabling powers vested in me. Now, official law of the Republic, may it be carried out! Long live the youth, long live our youthful homeland, long live Robert Serra!” said Maduro from the Miraflores Palace.
According to the government, the legislation will help to create a different kind of employment to that of neoliberal economies, and focus on generating “socio-productive” employment, or jobs which have social value for the Venezuelan people. The jobs include positions within the government’s anti-poverty programmes known as “missions”.
“It’s a law which guarantees protection for the social and labour rights of young men and women workers, as well as their income and social security. It’s not like a neoliberal law which attempts to deregulate and create slave labour,” explained the Venezuelan head of state.
Whilst Venezuela’s unemployment rate continues to fall, currently standing at around 7%, levels of youth unemployment remain stagnant at 13.9%. The government states that the new legislation should create around 200,000 new jobs for the country’s youth.
During the act, Minister for Education, Hector Rodriguez, who emerged as a political leader from the ranks of Venezuela’s socialist student movement, also addressed those gathered. He stressed that the law formed part of the country’s new participatory democratic model, and was the product of a national consultative process with the country’s youth, which collected proposals from young people in universities, communities, schools and young rural workers movements throughout the country.
Maduro passed the law by presidential decree, using powers granted to him by the country’s National Assembly in November 2013 for a period of 12 months.
In Venezuela, decree powers are designed to speed up the passing of laws which are deemed essential for the development of the country.
New “Productive” Youth Fund
During the celebrations, the Venezuelan President also confirmed the creation of the National Project Fund for Productive Youth, to be established with an initial payment of 500 million Bolivars (US$79 million). The development fund is specifically designed to finance socio-productive projects proposed by young people.
“It will finance projects such as services for the community, youth workshops, motorcycle repair and carpentry projects,” said Maduro.
He explained that the development fund would also give economic assistance to a series of cultural projects, including recording studios and youth radio shows in different regions across the country.
According to the latest polls, said Maduro, 64% of the Venezuelan youth have named socialism as their preferred political model.
“Of course I’m optimistic, I’m four months away from finishing my university degree… I have an 8 year old daughter who has the opportunity to study, she has a Canaimita laptop. My mother is 54 and now has a pension, I have a brother from a poor neighbourhood who now studies medicine… We’re building an alternative! Before becoming a revolutionary, I was a young criminal, rescued by this process. So of course I’m optimistic,” Elias Quiaro told TeleSur English.
Under the Bolivarian Revolution a number of programmes aimed at youth development have been implemented, including a policy of free universal education from primary school level to university.