Over the last weeks, the press on the island of Kerkyra featured ads seeking about 600 employees for a large hotel chain, which will launch two new hotels in May.

To the great surprise of the hotel owners, the response was limited. Only 120 jobs were filled, so they had to turn to foreign countries, and they are already offering fast-track training to Czechs and Romanians to cover their needs.

Similarly, a pasta firm recently sought, in vain, a small number of employees to work in the industrial zone of Kilkis.
Many believe there are particularities in local labour markets.

Kerkyra may be a special case, as there are many self-employed in the tourism sector there, and the local labour force may not suffice, but the same cannot be said of Kilkis.

Paradoxically, these are not rare examples. Whatever the case may be, nothing justifies the inability to fill vacant positions in a country with a 20 percent unemployment rate.

Many attribute the unwillingness to fill vacant positions to the emerging culture of unemployment, due to a benefits policy that was systematically introduced over the last years.

In other words, there are many who are comfortable, and prefer to be unemployed social benefits recipients, rather than salaried employees.

Right now, about 800,000 people in Greece are receiving benefits, enough to shape a specific culture and behavior. This develops certain mentalities, and fuels resistance to investment and economic reconstruction.

This is all the more true when one factors in the impact on segments of the population of current government policy, which of late systematically cultivates expectations of hiring in the public sector and local government.

Everyone can understand the need to establish policies of social protection for those who truly are in need, as well as the political and electoral aims of cultivating a generalised mentality of benefits and of the expectation to be supported by the state.

However, the harm from the politically organised prevalence of such practices is huge, and reveals the dilemmas of the post-bailout era.

After so many bitter experiences and structural changes in the economy and society, Greece has a unique opportunity to truly change and follow the path of production and creativity.

It is truly a difficult and demanding path. However, the other course, that of returning to the structural sins of previous decades, can only guarantee a national disaster.

It would be tantamount to a crime against the country to slide into the practices of the past.

This is the great dilemma now and in the next elections. On what road will Greece tread? Will it be that of creativity and a national renaissance, or a return to the easy path of populism, subsidised unemployment, and a supposedly “armed mendicancy”?