Youth Unemployment: More Needs, Less Help

Youth unemployment map – demonstrating real need.

This year there are over one million unemployed 16–24 year olds in the UK. 74 000 youths are defined as ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET). In the last quarter alone, the fourth highest quarter since records began. County Durham is one of the worst affected with 8.7% of under 25s claiming benefits. That’s 4780 young people in one county. Close by, in districts such as Hartlepool figures have risen to 13.3%.

Yet, despite these drastic figures, the British government decided to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) given to youths on lower incomes to encourage them to stay in education. At the same time, starting in October 2012, the average cost of a three-year university degree has risen to £25,179. This means that because of financial reasons, hundreds of students each year are prevented from receiving the education they need in order to build on the talents they have.

The solution sought for this is a simple one: in order to give young people in the UK a higher chance of success, they need to know what their options are. All this involves is a basic financial and entrepreneurial education that any adult would benefit from. It will give students an opportunity to broaden their horizons and see beyond the limits of school, university or uninspiring jobs. What is needed is a passionate motivational force that will demonstrate to those that gave up on themselves the opportunities they really have, rather than taking different options away from those most in need.

However, again the government is refusing to take explicit action to further the development of a successful, diverse and self-sufficent society, and rather increases the predicament of a ‘lost society’ whose main outlook remains a downward-spiralling, one-way economy. A generous estimate for the growth rate forecast for 2012 lies around 0.4%. Less money is being spent supporting small businesses and large amounts are still being given to banks: RBS was given 45bn of the taxpayer’s money in 2008, in 2011 they made their largest loss yet: £2bn.

With a society sporting numerous multi-generational benefit claimants, inherent debt cultures and increasing numbers of loan sharks, offering fast cash at horrific interest rates, the financial crisis is unlikely to change dramatically in the future. What needs to change is the way people learn and care about their money. In 2011, Money Advice Trust identified over 55 000 youth unemployed with serious, unmanageable debt problems.

In early January 2012 David Cameron finally responded to an open letter demanding compulsory financial education in schools. Unfortunately there was no conclusive answer and the issue will be reviewed. Over 100 000 people signed the repeated petition for compulsory financial education to ensure schools take the subject seriously. The first report on the issue by the All Party Parliamentary Group, entitled: Financial Education and the Curriculum, was presented at the end of last year. Nonetheless, it could be years, and another ‘lost generation’ later before anything actually changes.

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