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A Jobless Generation: UK Govt Creates Worst Youth Unemployment in 20 Years

(5 Posts)
ttosca Wed 30-Oct-13 16:38:30

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that the level of long term youth unemployment has reached its worst since 1994. With 115,000 18-24 year olds out of work for longer than two years now, the UK government is creating a jobless generation.

Long term youth unemployment has risen to four times 2004 numbers during the last decade. But is has tripled in just the last three years. To be clear, during the tenure of the Coalition government, the numbers of 18-24 year old out of work for more than two years has risen from 25, 800 in April 2010 to 115,000 today.

So why are 18-24 year olds faring so badly? In essence, they are the least equipped competitors in a disaster of a jobs market.

The government’s jobs figures show a national average of 7.7%. But further work by researchers at the University of Sheffield reveals that the unemployment scenario facing people in post-industrial and more working class areas is far worse. In the worst affected districts, the real rate of unemployment is often around 15 per cent. Knowsley in Merseyside tops the list with a real rate of unemployment estimated at 16.8 per cent.

On top of hidden unemployment, the UK also has an ever growing problem with underemployment; the case of people unable to find jobs with sufficient hours/pay to meet their needs.

A recent paper by researchers at the University of Stirling revealed that underemployment rose from 6.2% in 2008 to 9.9% in 2012. The rate hit 30% among 16 to 24 year olds.

We have also seen the rise of ‘zero hour’ contracts. Almost unheard of a few years ago, more than a million UK workers are now under these contracts. These contracts have no specified working hours – meaning that an employee is placed on permanent stand by until or unless the employer needs them. While classed as employed, the person has no wage security as they cannot guarantee their pay from one week to the next. They also receive no sick pay, leave or other basic terms and conditions.

The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicted that 900,000 public sector jobs would be lost between 2010/11-2017/18 due to planned budget cuts. However, the government is actually shedding jobs faster than the OBR predicted. So far, in just year 3, the government has axed 631,000 jobs – and this is set to rise to 1 million by 2018. The government statistics of 874,000 jobs created in the private sector rings hollow – these consist of the low wage, part time, zero hours contract non-jobs referred to above.

In short, the chances of getting a full time job, with a living wage and decent terms and conditions is difficult enough for those bringing experience, qualifications and sound references. For those young people without such assets, it is nigh on impossible.

To exacerbate matters, more than a quarter of all advertised jobs require applicants to have a degree. This is up from just 1 in 10 in the mid 1980’s. Despite the jobs pool being further restricted by this stipulation – even 1 in 10 graduates are now unemployed 6 months after finishing their degree. So what hope for a young person leaving school with poor or no qualifications?

The System Does Not Work


In response to this appalling jobs news, a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions told the Mirror:

“It’s an issue that we are absolutely determined to tackle which is why we introduced the Youth Contract, a package of measures offering support and increased opportunities to young people.”

But the £1bn Youth Contract has recently been declared a failure by its own advisors. Once again, the government is touting the success of a policy which has been acknowledged as a failure.

Dismissing people from a decently waged, full time job with a pension, annual leave and employment rights in order for them to be forced through fear of destitution to accept poverty wages in unsecure and underemployment, or long term unemployment is not an employment policy. Neither is it an economic policy. It is a short term wheeze that will flatter jobs and economic growth figures for a few years, while creating a lost generation of young people who never stood a chance.

Don’t get angry, get involved!

Youth Fight For Jobs – check out this jobs and education campaign for young people, by young people. Lend what support you can. Share information from the page. Attend protests!

MrJudgeyPants Wed 30-Oct-13 18:19:39

It's the same across much of Europe at the moment
Spain, France and Greece have eye wateringly high rates. I can't help thinking that if these youngsters were able to set a clearing rate for their labour, they could trade income for experience and stand them in good stead to get a better job a year or so down the line. I doubt we'll agree on that though.

niceguy2 Thu 31-Oct-13 13:02:41

Jobless Young Italians

It's not really a UK only anomaly. As people are living longer they now have to work longer in order to keep pensions affordable. So there's less opportunities for younger people.

Job protection regulations also mean it's harder to get rid of older employees in favour of younger ones. It also puts employers off hiring new staff if they can't get rid of them. Hence the rise of zero hour contracts.

So ironically youth unemployment would probably get worse if zero hour contracts were reigned in.

And if we are to compete in the modern world and lead the way then it's only natural that more jobs will require better educated employees and therefore degrees. Asian countries are pumping out graduates by the truck load. We already can't compete with China on widget making. The only way to compete is to move more into markets like Apple who invent the ideas and let China make the products.

UK have improved the number of graduates but there are a hell of a lot of people still who still don't value education. That's their problem, not the govt's. The world is moving more high tech and it doesn't matter which party is in power.

WooWooOwl Fri 01-Nov-13 11:56:08

Youth unemployment is too high only because there are too many people on this island.

It's all very well to say that there should be jobs for all, but doing what? Does society need more work to be done for anything other than preventing unemployment? If it does, (which i think it does in the public sector) then who's going to pay for that?

The unemployment we have now is partly a result of the massive improvements that have been made in healthcare - older people are living longer, staying healthy for longer, and more children are surviving childhood.

As long as we have too many people for the amount of work that needs to be done to sustain us, there will always be too much unemployment, and there will always be low wages.

MrJudgeyPants Fri 01-Nov-13 19:51:04

WooWooOwl, the truth is that right now, there are more people in employment in the UK than at any point in our history. As our economy develops, it is clear that the world of work (at least within the private sector) is splintering between low volume / high end manufacturing jobs and service jobs. Fortunately for us, the service industries have exploded over the last few generations.

I think that the point you make about there being too many people in the country does hold some water and a quick glance at the unemployment figures for the period leading up to the crash show fewer people out of work than the number of immigrants who came into our country at that time. However, I think it's too simplistic to argue that had we not had that immigration, we would have had full employment. At the same time, despite the increase in longevity, I'm not sure if enough people are retiring any later yet to affect the figures significantly.

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