1 in 5 young people unemployed: how has it come to this?

Laura Davis

103569611 300x288 1 in 5 young people unemployed: how has it come to this?Figures released today reveal that overall unemployment has fallen to 2.46 million, but the most worrying statistic is the jobless rate for young people reaching 20%.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced the rate of unemployment in the UK is now at 7.7%, but Youth unemployment has risen by 66,000 to 965,000 – the highest figure since records began in 1992.

Despite the government unveiling a £60 million apprenticeship and work placement scheme aimed at boosting work prospects for the group, this has arrived far too late. The scheme promises to fund up to 250,000 more apprenticeships over the next four years, and 100,000 work placements over the next two.

One charity that has been setting the standard for encouraging youth employment is Futureversity, which offers free courses for 11-25 year olds.

I first heard about Futureversity two years ago whilst working on a feature about things students can do in their summer holidays. I had no idea anything like this existed and having researched the charity further, I can’t seem to find any downside.

Fresh out of school, if any young person isn’t going onto higher education, they should be well-equipped to enter the working world, or at the very least with a strong idea as to which direction they’re going in and which steps to take first.

I was astounded at how poor the careers advice was at my school. It was a standard set of tick boxes which outlined your field of interest – I already knew I liked film and maths, but accountancy looked desperately unappealing and media studies was becoming over-subscribed- so it didn’t help.

The general tip was that university was a good way to go if you wanted to succeed. There was no mention of the plethora of career paths out there in the big wide world or much help outside of reaching the all-important exam results targets.

Futureversity was set up in 1995 as a crime prevention initiative in Tower Hamlets where there is the second-highest rate of child poverty in the UK. In 2006 it was commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools & Families to replicate the model across London – which came into play 2008 when the scheme was running in all 32 boroughs. The aim now? To go nationwide.

In 2009, a pilot scheme ran in the area of Oldham, Manchester and youth crime decreased by 68%. And that’s not their only impressive statistic:

  • 80% of attendees said they felt more positive about their future after their course
  • 63% said that they would like to get more involved in their local community afterwards
  • 93% said they had developed new skills

Boredom is a major reason which can be attributed to anti-social behaviour. Rather than branding youths with ASBOs the money would have been better spent with giving them something to do as an alternative. The courses Futereversity offers also aren’t necessarily the typical subjects you’d find in the classroom; Investment Banking, Indian Cookery, Youth Work, First Aid (although why this isn’t mandatory in schools in the first place is beyond me).

There are many young people who are more than willing to become case studies for the charity because they‘re grateful for the opportunity it gave them, and fully understand it acted as the catalyst they needed to turn their lives around.

Dizzee Rascal took a music production course in 2001 and has become a patron for the charity as a result. Having been previously expelled from four schools, the course offered a different environment to how he’d been taught in the past and consequently he feels he owes a lot to the charity.

“I just wanted to be a part of it” commented the rapper. “It was something to do in the summer, it’s constructive and I know how much good it could do if it got bigger. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be nationwide.”

Spreading the Futureversity model across 32 London boroughs cost £5million over 5 years, youth unemployment costs the government £90 million a week in lost productivity and benefits.

Although the charity holds an annual auction with donated gifts (including an impromptu donation this year from Dizzee Rascal of his very own shoes), Futureversity relies significantly on private funding and has support from a selection of big companies, including the BBC, Bank of America and Burberry. People can also volunteer if they’re an expert in their field by offering to teach young people about their skills.

Director Danny Boyle is another supporter of the cause, hoping to give something back to the community that has homed many of his films. As well as working on the London Olympics, he’s focusing his efforts on championing the charity:

“Any initiative that encourages kids to not feel despair about where they are going to find work, and gives them a lift and a bit of inspiration, is definitely worth it.”

Whilst the new government scheme is of course a step in the right direction, Trades Union Congress General Secretary Brendan Barber has commented that the Government’s youth jobs package has not gone far enough:

“Anything that helps a single young person into work or quality training is welcome, but these proposals fail to match the guarantees given by the now defunct Future Jobs Fund.”

The Prince’s Trust has today also warned that thousands of young people from Britain’s poorest families believe they will achieve “few” or “none” of their goals in life, fostering the growth of a new “youth underclass”.

Leading economist Professor David Blanchflower added “This report highlights the urgent need to tackle social immobility in the UK. There is an ambition crisis among our poorest young people, causing thousands to lose faith in their own abilities and aspirations. These feelings of hopelessness are often passed down from generation to generation and can spread throughout our most deprived communities.”

The fact that 1 in 5 young people are now unemployed is a shocking statistic. On top of this, 70,000 school age offenders enter the youth justice system every year. Schemes like this are invaluable to the public by helping to tackle these huge social problems from the roots, so let’s support them before the number of young people without work in the UK reaches one million. There’s no reason why it should come to this.

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  • Renatus

    I said you talk cooly as if you had nothing to lose from this process,
    but you do. And yes, these types of regulations maybe an option. In the
    past, doing buisness like we do today was not even possible (i.e before
    the fall of the USSR, China opening for buisness and the rise of global
    co-operation). In fact, all you have to do is look at the American
    blue-collar worker to see the damaging effects of globalisation (and,
    ofcourse, changes in labour laws, but both arise from the same source –
    the rich wanting more). If you understandd the advantages and
    disadvantages of globalisation, then you know that the middle and working
    classes of developed countries are the ones who lose out. Each business
    works for it’s own interests but you have to think what the effect on
    society will be.

    Average Joe: ‘Wow, these products from *insert developing country* are
    real cheap. Shame I can’t afford them because I have no job”.

  • Jon8

    The problem is, you can’t just opt out of globalisation. If you erect trade barriers, prevent foreigners coming to work and punish domestic firms for sending jobs abroad, you end up as an economic backwater.
    Workplace regulation is essential to protect employees and has improved the lot of Western workers, but it comes at a cost. We have to accept that low skilled jobs will move abroad because it is cheaper to use labour from less developed nations that have fewer workplace regulations. As these nations progress, they compete with us for medium and high skilled jobs too. We can do two things: evolve our education system so that we are always producing youngsters who are ready to work in the higher skilled occupations where the economies of a company moving abroad are not so obvious; and pressure manufacturers not to use labour that is not protected by a minimum set of regulations. Both are hard to do. Education is beset by arguments over methods and occasional resistance to change by unions, getting international companies to sign up to minimum standards is difficult because it requires united action by world governments or united action by consumers, both of which tend to look for short term gratification.

    The idea that we can go back to how things were, with nearly everything you buy being made in your own country, is just not feasible. I know that business acts in its own interest, which is why I do not believe in unfettered capitalism, but there is only so much regulation you can impose before you suffer an economic consequence. I don’t think we regulate enough in some industries (I believe the banking lobby’s claims that they would up sticks and leave London were just bluster and the government’s regulations do not go far enough), but I think you can’t go as far as you suggest.

  • Clive

    yes there are a lot of youngsters who for some reason think the world owes them a living but there are also a lot who want to work, this bunch of clowns running the country keep telling us ( young and old) go and look for work . try doing it if your 18/22 or over 50 lots of part time job,,but no real jobs out there ,, then of course theres the good excuse from an employer you have no experience how the hell are you going to get any if no one will employ you and I am afraid over  immigration has not helped either .

  • urjokingright

    depends what your priorities are – “British industry” ie. rich people with companies based in the UK or ordinary young British people and their hopes and dreams of having a reasonable life one day. 

  • urjokingright

    Without doubt. The UK is entering a period of long decline. People will look back on the 1950s to around 2000 as a long gone golden age when people could buy houses or get social housing and the UK had its core national identity. 

  • Mary Burkart Ibvm

     All over the world young people are struggling – it is time to look at our economic systems and re-evaluate what we value and expect from the systems that are unable to sustain equitable conditions they, at least nominally, are meant to support. 

  • Mr M

     Im 23. When I was at school I noticed a HUGE shift in the attitudes of the new years below me. They were more aggressive, rude, lustful, etc. Teachers didn’t have the support to handle this. MANY children, went off the rails as such because of the lack of discipline. Home lives were a mess and children had no place to go. 7 / 8 years later and here we are. A generation with a lack, desire and hunger for life. I remember saying to my peers in school, if these guys are bad, what about the next! If something isn’t done soon, it will only get worse. The root causes need to be addressed. 

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