Last week, the unemployment figures for June to August, showing that 50,000 young people have managed to find new jobs. It inevitably led to a whole lot of backslapping on the government benches, and David Cameron feeling awfully proud of himself at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Well done indeed.
Except, on behalf of the 957,000 British young people who are still looking for employment, might I suggest that Cameron shouldn’t be chillaxing just yet?
Yes, I’m part of that “lost generation” everyone is talking about. It’s something a lot more frightening when it actually means you. I’ve been searching for a job since I left university over a year ago, and it has been hell. I’ve lost count of how many application forms I’ve filled out, how many times I’ve revised my CV and how many cover letters I’ve written. I do know that I’ve applied for over three hundred jobs in that year. Probably a lot more.
Let me take you through it. In the morning, I run a check of every job site I can think of. If I find any likely vacancies (by no means a certainty) I note them down and go through them one by one, sending applications or checking them off if I don’t meet enough of the requirements. And then I repeat this process throughout the day.
To keep myself sane between job searches I volunteer as a Cub Scout Leader, I intern for a political blog, I write all manner of things – fiction, reviews, undirected rants about the inequities of life. Most of it is to fill my day, to keep my spirits up or to improve my skills in the hope of finally finding a job.
It’s depressing. But the worst part is the realisation that this is the exact same experience that almost million other young people are going through. It’s one thing to despair for yourself, but for a whole generation? I can think of few worse things for a community-minded socialist.
We young people didn’t create this recession, and yet young people are undoubtedly suffering greatly as a result of it. I don’t just mean the present misery, but the lasting effect – the “scarring” – that it has on a person’s future. At the moment, my life as I had planned it is on “pause”. When it eventually starts “playing” again, I will be more than a year behind where I had hoped to be.
And that delay is something I will carry for the rest of my career. Just as, to a greater or lesser extent, nearly a million of my compatriots.
It makes the whole situation even more infuriating that the government seem to be so uninterested in addressing it. When Ed Balls proposed his five point plan over a year ago, I rejoiced. Here were some solid ideas, which the government could take up immediately, to boost employment. In particular the national insurance tax break seemed to be a sure-fire way to get lots of people back into work.
But nothing happened. Money was found for a millionaires’ tax break, but George Osborne’s only answer to calls to invest in the future of Britain’s young people was that it would mean more borrowing, and we couldn’t afford it. And in the meantime, the way to get young people into non-existent jobs is apparently to deny them the lifeline of welfare.
Politics has an often-unhelpful tendency to polarise. Each side demonises the other, and exaggerated portrayals abound. But with that said, judging by their actions I really believe this is a government that doesn’t care about me or the others in my position. There’s so much that could have so easily been done to help. And yet they’ve bent over backwards to give precious assistance to those with the least need.
We already know that certain members of the government think that the Police are “f**king plebs”. I can only wonder how little they must think of myself and other unemployed young people?