The number of unemployed young people topped a million this week, meaning one in five is now signing on. Access to university has been restricted meaning only the loaded are able to afford the fees. The BBC quoted the General Secretary of the University and College Union as saying: "Aside from the financial cost of consigning hundreds of thousands of people to the dole queue, we risk producing a generation with few prospects and little chance to alter their situation." It is about the same cost to create a job for a young person as to pay for them to sit at home developing life skills like watching Jeremy Kyle, rolling spliffs and going to the shops in their pyjamas.
The National Union of Teachers said the government were culpable and had damaged young people's life chances by abolishing the education maintenance allowance (EMA) that enabled poorer, higher education students to stay in college. In other countries where young people were out of work and couldn't study there have been revolutions, so far we've only had riots. Baby boomers, the post war generation, left school at a time of 100% employment and full grants to attend university. Some of these lucky, lucky people became politicians and gradually got grants reduced until you ended up having to pay to go, meanwhile they have managed to whittle away job opportunities to a nub by laying waste to manufacturing industries. It's this blessed generation that have come up with the ingenious solution that young people work for nothing!
Internships are nothing new and are commonplace in highly competitive industries where young people are falling over themselves to get a foot in the door and employers are only too happy to bolster their work forces with enthusiastic free help.This borders on exploitation and certainly favours wealthier young people whose parents can sub them and put them up in places like London.
It's bad enough being a runner for a TV production company for six months and then get kicked to curb, but this week 'The Guardian' reported that: "Under the government's work experience programme young jobseekers are exempted from national minimum wage laws for up to eight weeks and are being offered placements in Tesco, Poundland, Argos, Sainsbury's and a multitude of other big name businesses." Brilliant! Tesco's bosses must be rubbing their hands together, fantasising about not having to pay anyone any more, imagine how much they'll be able to increase their £3.5bn profits. Ironically it will also mean that they will be able to pose as assisting the youth of today while the tax payer is funding their slave army.
This initiative is being enabled by the government exempting young people from the national minimum wage laws for eight weeks. If young people attempt to back out of the scheme they are threatened with losing their jobseekers allowance. 'The Guardian' investigation quoted Cait Reilly, she has a (presumably expensive) Bsc in geology from Birmingham University and is being forced to stack shelves in Poundland, alongside people who are being paid for the work. Working in Poundland for pounds isn't too bad but to have to do it for free makes zero sense as it won't help Cait's CV and will prevent actual jobseekers, who want to work in retail, getting the job.
The global economy may be tanking but the government's current solution to youth unemployment is making the situation worse for young people. Long term investment in actual job creation is what's necessary. Internships and apprenticeships are part of the solution but should be the beginning of a clearly defined career path that leads to a well paid and pensioned job like many of the baby boomers enjoy, not the current "you people should stack shelves for free" plan they created.