If there’s one group of people that have been repeatedly on the wrong end of the cuts, it’s young people. No more EMA, no more youth service. No more Connexions, no more jobs, no housing benefit and now, you’ll be put on workfare if you can’t find a job that doesn’t exist.
The idea is that 18-21 year olds will have 6 months to find a job. If they don’t manage to do that, they’ll be put on “Youth Allowance” (which, conveniently is the same amount as JSA – £57.35 a week) and be told they have to undertake 30 hours a week of community service. And 10 hours of job searching. £57.35 a week for 30 hours work comes out at just over £1.90 per hour.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a debate/discussion entitled #ICantTrust, which was presented by the youth magazine Live Mag UK. This event allowed young people to have a voice, while also aiming to address the issues surrounding race relations and policing.
The evening was interesting, insightful and inspiring, as I gained new information, heard a variety of views and witnessed young people being willing to speak up. Young people have a lot to say, but it is up to them to get out and use their voices to speak out.
This was just one of the subjects highlighted last night, as it is essential for young people to be the change that they want to see. We need to make some noise and shout loud enough to force those in power to listen, otherwise they will continue to make decisions that have an adverse effect on us.
Just like one of the panelists Pauline Pearce (also known as the “Hackney Heroine“) strongly expressed, there are a handful of individuals sitting in parliament compared to the large number of us in the public.
We have the ability to make changes, but too often, we tend to shy away instead of embracing it. Writer of the Kenny Reports, Kenny Imafidon, was also on the panel and he said that once we acknowledge the power we’ve got as people, we can change things.
If all young people tapped into their potential, power and ability, imagine what great things they could achieve and how they could take the world by storm. However, it is also up to the older generation and those in power to guide and support the young generation.
Too often, older individuals are afraid or uninterested in interacting with young people, while others are incredibly patronising. The media have also criminalised young people, especially after the 2011 riots, which has had a negative effect.
Panelist Elizabeth Pears, news editor for The Voice newspaper, believes that the government could save so much time and money by just investing in some extra curricular activities. I totally agree with Elizabeth, as some of the issues and uproar among young people is caused by the cuts to their extra curricular activities and a lack of things to do.
Nevertheless, as young people we need to be more ambitious and even become our own role models, because it is up to us to pave our own way. The older generation is not going to do that for us and many of them have shown that we are never going to be their number one priority. Final panelist PC Errol Patterson said: “If you want to make a difference in politics, you have to join politics.
Although not all of us may want to join politics directly, there are a many ways to make a difference and get our voice heard. I want to use Young People Insight as a platform for young people to make their voices heard to create a change, so I would love for you to get involved. Get in contact with me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by following @YPInsight on Twitter.
Annoyed. Frustrated. Tired. Stressed. Confused. Depressed. And most of all, useless. These are terms some young people have used to describe their feelings of being unemployed. One young person added, “There isn’t much you can do without a constant income”, while another went further to say, “It felt like I couldn’t do anything”.
In this struggling economic climate, when the population is living longer and technology is overtaking some job roles, it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to land a job. And once they do land a job, they then face the issue of actually keeping it or trying to progress up the career ladder.
According to parliament.uk’s youth unemployment statistics, 16.9% of 16-24 year olds were unemployed in September to November 2014. Although the figure decreased by 3.2 percentage points from the previous year, it did increase by 0.9 percentage points from the previous quarter. However, these statistics probably do not tell the full story, as some young people are likely to have fallen through the cracks of the system.
I am one of those statistics, signing on every other Monday, just so that I can receive a little income to contribute to my family home. Signing on was never part of my initial life plan (I should have graduated and be working with a fashion company right now) and I hate doing it, but I cannot seem to find a job, despite my education or experience. This is often the case for numerous other young people.
My 19-year-old sister is currently unemployed. She previously held a temporary retail position at House of Fraser, which she struggled to get even with a retail qualification. What is worse is that she is now struggling to find another retail job, despite having experience under her belt to go alongside her qualification. “You want to find a job and you have the experience, but it’s never enough experience or the right experience,” she said.
However, one of the biggest obstacles facing young jobseekers is trying to get paid work. Don’t get me wrong, volunteering is great and work experience is an invaluable, necessary stepping stone for many job roles. Yet too many individuals want something for nothing, or they would gladly pay you a pittance.
There are now regular debates and reports on the issue of unpaid internships and why they should be stopped. I even had a company who was offering me an unpaid internship ask if I would be able to arrange for the job centre to pay my travel expenses, which was what they were supposed to be offering.
Although internships serve as a stepping stone into a particular industry, don’t young people deserve to earn just a little something? My sister said, “I don’t see why we should have to work for free. It’s not fair… A job is never guaranteed.”
In their desperation to find a job, young people find themselves being forced into roles that they hate or may make them unhappy. It is as if they are brainwashed into believing that their lives amount to finding a job, which seems to be a central ethos for the Job Centre. Charlene*, 22, said: “Being on JSA [Job Seekers Allowance] is incredibly stressful and soon it’s like you spend more time trying to please the job centre than actually finding a job.”
Although employment is important, should it come at the cost of the happiness and/or emotional well-being of young people, who are already faced with a number of other issues.
Being unemployed – particularly for a long period of time – can be one of the toughest and most demeaning things, especially when prices are constantly rising and we are taught that getting a job is the main goal in life.
More needs to be done to get young people into sufficient employment and greater support (particularly emotional support) is essential. The government talks about it, but they don’t seem to be doing enough and the job centre is not always effective.
“I think signing on makes it worse, because you’re reminded all the time that you don’t have a job and no matter how hard you look, you’re constantly told it’s not enough” says Charlene.
Thousands of young people are striving to find employment, after countless job applications and/or numerous years of studying, but they continue to find themselves in the same position. It gradually chips away at their confidence and self-esteem, as they start to lose the passion they once had.
Seeking employment eventually becomes a game of, ‘Who will give me a chance’ or ‘Who will be willing to see my potential’, leaving young people feeling annoyed, frustrated, tired, confused, depressed and useless. It needs to come to an end.
*Name has been changed
Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.