Youth unemployment and a lost generation
30th March 2011
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One of Haverhill’s lost generation

Figures unveiled last week have revealed staggering unemployment rates; 2.5million people are now claiming benefits in Britain, the highest figure in seventeen years. The biggest revelation however, is that youth employment is now at a record high, with almost 1million 16-24 year olds out of work.

Just a statistic?

As it happens, I am one of those statistics. Some are calling us the ‘lost generation’, capable young adults who are eager to work but are faced with a lack of jobs to apply for or the experience necessary to get our first step onto the career ladder. I graduated from university last summer after three years of study reading English Literature, a respected subject wherein I developed a range of broad skills. I was always told it would stand me in good stead for my first job when I entered the big wide adult world, instead I have been faced with the harsh reality that there is an overwhelming lack of entry level jobs.

Rising fees and cuts

Following details of the budget, young people who wished to gain further education or who were hoping to go to university were faced with the news that tuition fees were rising to as much as ten thousand pounds a year. Grants given by the government to help fund apprentices, such as the ‘future jobs fund’ have been cut, whilst EMA has also been scrapped. Experts say that the figure of 974,000 young people unemployed could rise to as much as 1.2million in the next five years unless drastic action is taken. No wonder students took to the streets in their thousands to protest.

Dreams and aspirations

My personal dreams and aspirations to become a reporter or work in the public relations sector have fallen by the wayside as I face further rejections from my applications, but mostly I find companies do not bother responding at all. The feedback for me and many others are all the same- we do not have enough experience. Yet, if no-one is willing to give us that break- how will we ever get that experience? My experience in the form of a post-graduate course, internships, volunteering and full time holiday jobs seemingly do not count for anything. It’s a vicious circle which is affecting many others all over Britain.  

What will the future bring?

With savage cuts imposed across the country in the name of the government’s austerity programme, young people have been hit worse than any other age group. Statistics confirm that in a recession the first thing companies do is to stop recruiting new staff and The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found half of employers were not planning to recruit any school leavers or graduates this summer. Research has shown that unemployment at an early period can impact the rest of a worker’s life, whilst the Prince’s Trust have found it can also trigger problems such as self-loathing, panic attacks and depression.

I realise that I am in a fortunate position; I have a good education behind me and a supportive family, and am well aware that there are many others in a similar position- but it does not appease the frustration I feel at having worked consistently hard in order to get good qualifications. I have to hope that it will be a matter of time before something comes my way. However, for me and the other 973,999 young adults’ unemployed, until there are sufficient jobs created for us to fill, we could be waiting a very long time.

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