Mirror

'Act now to stop youth unemployment hitting 80s levels and tearing lives apart'

Mirror logo Mirror 19/10/2020 01:01:00 Gordon Brown

Youth unemployment rates will soon look like those of the 1980s  when a whole generation of young people found joblessness tore their lives apart.

With youth unemployment rising to one million, the Covid generation - the class of 2020 - face the same long wait for the first job, the same batch of rejection letters when they apply, the same dejection and desolation that too many of their parents' generation suffered 40 years ago, when government YOPS and YTS schemes were lambasted as 'skivvy schemes'.

Teenagers growing into adulthood with their whole lives in front of them should be optimistic and full of hope.

But only far bolder measures than those currently in place will - as I outline below -will prevent the destruction of the hopes and aspirations of a generation.

We already know from the Office of National Statistics that the under-25s have suffered 60 per cent of UK redundancies since March.

a man standing next to a brick wall: Young people should be filled with hope and optimism for the future © GettyYoung people should be filled with hope and optimism for the future

Official figures also show that youth unemployment is already 16 per cent for men.

But even after being an MP for 32 years and in government during the global financial crisis, I found the true arithmetic of youth unemployment discovered by Paul Gregg in his report to the Alliance For Full Employment to be as alarming and frightening as any factual report I have seen.

What the report says is that:

  • Youth unemployment has risen by more than 500,000 during this year and will be one million by November as summer school an college and university leavers come on to the jobs market.
  • Young people are twice as likely as older adults to work in those sectors of the economy-like cafes and bars and tourism- most likely to be shut down.
  • Unless we act quickly, as a Resolution foundation study has calculated, only 40 per cent of lower qualified school leavers will be in work.
  • And less than half of those with mid-level qualifications will find jobs soon and only two out of every three graduates.

A total of 1.5m places are now needed over the coming year to deal with the increased number of young people requiring help -but just 120,000 young unemployed will definitely qualify for Kickstart, the main youth employment programme when it commences.

a sign on the side of a building: More needs to be done to stop people slipping through the cracks of the current support - but that is just the start © Bloomberg via Getty ImagesMore needs to be done to stop people slipping through the cracks of the current support - but that is just the start

That is because they have to be registered on income support as long term unemployed for six months more - causing most of the currently unemployed to fall through the net.

That's why Kickstart and other youth programmes need to be upgraded urgently.

And so I'd put on the table four initiatives that need to be rapidly implemented.

First, young people need to be training for jobs, not training for continued unemployment. 

Skills courses for jobs now in demand, in IT, logistics, caring for the elderly and even contract tracing must be expanded at speed.

And even now we should be planning a further expansion of the school, college and university places, one of the ways we stopped youth unemployment rising faster in the global financial crisis of 2009, giving young people better qualifications for future jobs

Second, having been involved in designing the new deal for jobs in 1997 and the Future Jobs Fund in 2009, I know that we need more emphasis on a higher quality of work experience - and no return to the much-criticized youth employment schemes of the 1980s.

Third, the young need greater help with their job search, helping youngsters have the best CV and with training for interviews is - as we also found in 2009 - a vital element in young people getting work.

And fourth, employers will need an incentive - around a £100-a-week - wage subsidy for six months.

We should offer greater help to chambers of commerce and small businesses as, to their credit, they offer places to the young.

And local authorities should be given the resources and empowered to take the young on.

When Chancellor and Prime Minister I found that you have always to be one and if possible two steps ahead, thinking of the next and next-  but-  one problem and how you solve it before it hits you hard.

Youth unemployment is fast becoming our next major social crisis - and to prevent it getting out of hand we have to act now.

19. lokakuuta 2020 4:01:00 Categories: Mirror

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