Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Perspectives about work need to change fundamentally to tackle youth unemployment

Recently, Matthew Hancock, Conservative MP for West Suffolk, outlined the Conservatives' latest plan in their attacks on young people-'boot camps' for unemployed people of the age of 18-21, supposedly to prepare them for work.

The reality is that these boot camps will be a complete waste of time and money, and not do anything to tackle youth unemployment-here is why.

1. Boot camps cannot create the suitable jobs young people want to enter. It is not young people's fault that youth unemployment is so high in the UK-it is the fault of the bankers and corporations who started the Great Recession, as well as governmental failure to actually create new jobs or tax the rich more heavily so that more can be invested in job creation. The money that will be wasted on these boot camps if these plans go ahead could be better used for regeneration projects that are better for lowering youth unemployment in the long-term.

2. It would be easier for people aged 18-21 to find work if there was a balanced focus between academic and technical skills. Many employers advertise in some jobs not actually requiring university education that applicants with degrees are preferred or required, which already shuts out young people in this age bracket. Also, a lack of investment in technical skills Britain needs more of, especially in green technologies, means that young people who are less academically inclined are losing out in the jobs market and finding it difficult to compete-this gap needs to be plugged.

3. Current and future deterrents for young people entering further and higher education, such as high fees and the scrapping of maintenance grants, are continuing to make youth unemployment worse. Many young people who wanted to enter university but were deterred by the lack of support and the prospect of surmounting debt are finding it difficult to get useful work, especially that which pays a living wage (as opposed to a minimum wage) and which is not zero-hours. Making higher education free and reintroducing grants for those who can demonstrate the merit and effort is what we need.

We should instead look at the fundamental reasons behind high youth unemployment, try to help regenerate communities whose loss of traditional industries have been responsible for long-term unemployment of many of their residents, and help young people to aspire to their dreams and hopes. We also need to try and resolve the imbalance between the availability and prospects of academically inclined and of technically inclined jobs, and expand the green sector of the job market in the long-term.


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