The Economist today produces figures that show nearly one in five (17.3%) of 18 to 24 year olds is now out of work - and if the worst is yet to come in 2010, this could rise to one in four or more. The reasons why this age group are disproportionately affected come down to poor training and skills, and a State minimum wage for young people that has risen 59% in the last ten years whilst average earnings have risen by only 45%.
This is a damning indictment of this failed Labour government's policies. Twelve years ago, in 1997, Yvette Cooper, now Employment Secretary, said*;
As we bring down youth unemployment, it will be right to help other groups if the resources are then available. Other groups will need different kinds of help, so a new deal for the over-50s would be differently shaped. We must not, however, be complacent or suppose that, because we have got youth unemployment down, we have solved the problem. The group of people who will be left among the unemployed young will be the most difficult to help. The fact that so many people in my area are entirely without qualifications is very worrying. We talked to those people in focus groups about what they wanted, and they said that they just wanted jobs—they did not want education and training. That shows the need to change attitudes, to help those people to see that education and training will help their long-term prospects, not just their immediate chances of earning.Labour then proceeded to fail utterly in providing education and training, with half the children now leaving school unable to read or write properly. Cooper also imagined that a youth minimum wage was the panacea to cure youth unemployment - blind to the possibility that it would prove to be one of the causes of it. Such is the economic and social wreckage that this failed Labour government leaves in its wake.
Time for an updated version of this, I think: