I have just been reading the latest unemployment figures for St Albans parliamentary constituency covering November 2009. They show a shocking doubling in local youth unemployment in just one year. The November 2009 figure of local unemployed 18-24 year olds is 345 as compared with 170 figure from just one year earlier.
I have met so many frustrated and anxious young people and their parents. Frustrated because they have skills and ambition and often good degrees which are not being used, anxious because they are seeing life chances slipping away. When this Labour government first came into office in 1997, they boasted they would abolish unemployment with their so-called ‘New Deal.’ Well it just is not working. There is a lot of research evidence which shows that young people who cannot get work at the start of their adult lives are disadvantaged for the rest of their working life.
Many older previously full-time workers are now working part-time to stay in employment. So even when the economy picks up, the fear must be that part-time workers will go back to full-time before new, young, inexperienced workers are hired. This is a rotten Christmas present for young people entering the job market and their families. We have the risk of a lost generation. Young people need a lifeboat from employers and government so that they can polish their skills and enhance their work readiness. One simple solution would be the Liberal Democrat suggestion of having three month paid internships where the public sector funds a basic allowance of £55 a week allowing everyone to gain valuable work experience. Employers benefiting from their work would then be required to help their interns with their cv’s and future job applications. Everyone would be winners.