Thursday, 3 February 2011

Young and unemployed

Unemployment figures for young people have almost reached the 1 million mark. This means that youth unemployment has risen by 20.3%, which is the highest level it has ever been since 1992. Young people face an incredibly difficult entry into the job market, because they are competing for jobs with experienced workers who have recently entered the job market as a result of redundancy and job cuts.

Whenever young people remain unemployed for long, there is a societal and personal price to pay. A long spell of unemployment leaves permanent scars; it makes the prospect of entering the job market even harder and the likelihood of being stuck in low paying jobs more likely. At a societal level, disaffected youth is more likely to engage in crime and violence increasing demands on the police, social workers, hospitals and courts. Long-term youth unemployment is very expensive. It is also a tragedy.

The Coalition Government has proposed to attack youth unempoyment through a combination of apprenticeships, extra training places at colleges and work pairings, but in England it has allowed for the rise in student fees, the reduction of the education budget and the possible withdrawal of the £550 million education maintenance allowance, which was so vital for young people to remain in education. These actions seem paradoxical because many young people may chose to go back into education if they cannot find employment quickly. However, if entering education will merely sink you further into debt and there are no immediate jobs to be had, what are young people to do?

It is understandable that budgetary cuts need to come but I hope that Scotland can see through the fallacy behind cuts that affect the education, skills development and future employability of our young because innovation, R&D and ultimately jobs come from an educated work-force.

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