Bleak just got bleaker for youth employment…

Orange no longer uses the tagline “the future’s bright”, good job really, this statement would carry a trading standards warning after last week’s news about unemployment.

The future for our young people is anything but bright.Youth unemployment is at an all time high; nearly one million 16-24 year olds are unemployed in the UK. Doesn’t that news make you feel sick to the bottom of your stomach?

How have we allowed that to happen? It’s not someone else’s problem, it’s ours. As parents, teachers, employers and friends.
This ‘problem’ will soon be on a couch near you; a couch if they’re lucky. A shop doorway if they’re not.

Unemployment at such a young age leads to so many social and cultural problems, and Agitator is not the column for those particular woes. We knew that this horrific situation was coming; we’d seen the signs, quarter after quarter.

What have the answers been from those who govern us?

1. Cut benefits encouraging young people to stay on in further education and gain qualifications (EMA)
2. Scrapped the Future Jobs fund

3. Cut face to face careers services that had access to young people, NEET or not

4. Increased access to apprenticeships for the over 25s and those already in employment

5. Not resolved funding anomalies for those families of those undertaking apprenticeships

6. Cut transport subsidies

7. Unprecedented increases in university fees

You know there are more, it’s so depressing But our Ministers are not depressed; they are audacious (and I don’t mean that in a good way).

In Agitator’s humble opinion audacity is too plentiful in our coalition government, despite these bizarre economies, sold to us as being “tough love” (or perhaps that was meant to be ‘tough, love.’) have actually harmed, irreparably, the futures of our youth.

Senior Tory figures, it seems, are punishing our youth just for being young.

Universities minister, David Willetts said in his speech to the Conservative party conference: “Within 3 miles of Tottenham when the riots broke out there were 3,100 vacancies on the National Apprenticeship website. When we make opportunities available, we expect young people to take them. There are no excuses.”

Well David, if a family is going to miss out on hundreds of pounds a month because little Johnny is learning to stack shelves at the local corporate giant of a supermarket for just £2.60 an hour, and then replaced once his ‘so called’ apprenticeship ends, perhaps just 12 weeks later… your ‘no excuses’ threat is probably falling on deaf ears.

David, you’re not scaring anyone, you’re just being silly. Stop it and make some good, robust decisions that will make a positive difference to young people and their futures.

Come up with some innovative proposals that don’t punish our youth, show them some love, treat them with respect and support them properly, and, help us, FE colleges and colleagues and the whole FE system to do just that.

Fine words butter no parsnips and they won’t help youth unemployment either.

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