Human experience is of infinite diversity. However within a certain age group, that of young people, many are experiencing something similar; they’re are languishing in appalling rates of unemployment. I am unemployed. Contrary to the perceptions of luxurious idleness, unemployment is a solitary, invariably depressing existence. I do a large amount of youth work to do something stimulating and productive as well as pave the way for a career in the social sector. In this capacity I meet many other young people, who as well as having a multiplicity of behavioural and circumstantial problems, are also stuck in the rut of unemployment. In areas with a high proportion of ethnic minorities the rates of unemployment are staggering and utterly disgraceful. Over 31% of Asian young people are unemployed and 48% of Black young people are out of work, according to a recent Guardian article.
In terms of youth unemployment there is also an important regional dimension. While “lucky” young people in the prosperous boroughs of Tooting and Kensington and Chelsea have 19% and 15% youth unemployment respectively, in Rhonda (Wales) and Mid Ulster (Northern Ireland) 39% of young people are out of work.
Apart from the dramatic loss of self esteem, joblessness creates an appalling, and largely unnecessary degree of stress , fuelled by making people survive on £7 a day. This particularly needs to be subject to a review; perhaps in favour of a system that values previous National Insurance contributions, genuine attempts to find employment and also peoples willingness to do community/voluntary work while they seek a job. Furthermore a change of approach is necessary. For every Jeremy Kyle-esqe sponger, bludgeoned into passivity by a unholy combination of Sky Sports packages, cheap Ale and holidays in Marbella, there are far more people simple dejected and degraded by unemployment. I am not saying young people are the most important issue this election. However there needs to be a comprehensive appreciation of the debilitating effect of young people leaving school to find a paucity of reliable, fulfilling and adequately paid occupations. Once that happens commendable rhetoric can translate into meaningful action.