Socialist Worker

Young people on the scrapheap

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2155

Young people and unemployment graphic

Young people and unemployment graphic


The level of unemployment in Britain is growing faster every month. It is not hitting everyone in the same way.

Unemployment has increased among every age group but young people are being hit the hardest. The rise in unemployment among young people has been at least twice the rate of increase among the general population since 2000.

Pip Warner, an 18-year old living in Hadley, near Southend, has just left college and is now unemployed. “In my area it’s quite hard to find a decent job,” she told Socialist Worker.

“There’s not much help at the Job Centre. I think the workers don’t want to be there themselves – they just want you in and out. I wanted to move out of home when I turned 18 but I’m still living with my parents because I can’t move out without a job.”

Pip says that there are few options available, especially for young people.

“I know people who were on apprenticeships doing labouring work,” she said. “They got £80 a week for spending part of the week at college and part at work. But now the companies are closing down and so they can’t do that anymore.

College

“One of my friends gets £30 a week for doing a course at college. Her boyfriend is unemployed and between them have about £100 a week to live on. They are expecting their first baby.

“I think unemployment is worrying because people can get desperate and fall into crime. I hope that going to the Fight for the Right to Work conference this Saturday will give me more awareness of what people are doing about unemployment.”

The official figures show job vacancies are falling dramatically. But it turns out that the real picture may be even worse – as some unemployed people report chasing advertised jobs that don’t actually exist.

Young workers tend to be concentrated in low-paid, low-skilled, insecure and part-time jobs, in a narrow range of service industries.

This puts younger workers at particular risk. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has noted that the slump in the services sector over the last six months of 2008 was unprecedented in British history.

Recruitment freezes hit young people disproportionately and they are often the first to go if jobs are cut.

Sacking younger workers is better for the boss, as workers who have worked at a job for less than two years are not eligible for redundancy pay.

The TUC predicts that by the end of this year 200,000 young people will have been unemployed for a year.

Unemployment has devastating long-term effects for job losses. It hits expectations and hopes for the future.

People who have experienced unemployment in their youth are more likely to earn lower wages in the future.

One study found that the wages of people who experience youth unemployment are between 13 to 21 percent lower than they would have been otherwise.

Only 65 percent of young people not in education, employment or training, known as Neets, answered positively when asked if they would definitely work again in the future. This compares with 94 percent of non-Neets.

Other factors shape unemployment levels. Black and ethnic minority young people are hit harder than white ones.


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