Monday, 14 November 2011

Youth unemployment timebomb

Europe's youths aren't working. Youth unemployment in Spain is close to 45%, in Greece 40%, 30% in Ireland and Italy. In the UK some 20% can't find work. Yet modern Europe is a continent based on consumer consumption; the TV ads haven't changed since 2008. A snappy little Fiat, the latest iPad, a DFS sofa, financial products, designer coffee, a home and cat - all dangled as aspirational should-haves to two-thirds of a generation. The workless third are expected to be patient and wait, I guess. 

That last sentence wasn't a throwaway. 30% youth unemployment can mean either that all youths can expect to be employed 2/3rds of the time or that 2/3rds of youths are employed all of the time and 1/3 for none of the time. Surprisingly, Spain, with employers who as a body avoid giving a permanent contract and its obligations to the young, is among the job-sharers; all young people tend to have some work, albeit short-term, with gaps between contracts. The UK is among nations that should be wary of creating the opposite, a cohort of adults who have passed through youth without having ever worked, for here lies a timebomb.

Those who have had work experience, albeit a series of short-term and insecure contracts, will settle into full-time permanent employment as soon as they have the chance. Those who have never had work experience by the time they hit 35 are unlikely ever to work during their working lifespan. This timebomb is the result of well-meaning but actually destructive employment protection measures of the kind promulgated by the Labour Party and the EU.   

Let's ensure we're in the former group; if young people have to share flats (and costs) to even-out short term contracts, if they have to learn to live for twelve months on nine months' earnings (and both short-term tax breaks and better hourly rates would help here) and if they have to take the iPad this year and defer the new Fiat to 2013 this is infinitely better than creating a deadweight cohort of unemployable, unfulfilled and wrecked lives. The more flexible and less secure our youth labour market, the better the long term chances of all our young people. 


Elby the Beserk said...

Youth unemployment climbed year on year under Labour. Rural Neet unemployment when the Great Gurner was finally dragged kicking and screaming out of Number 10 stood at 40%. I gather it is still the same.

Anonymous said...

The laws of unintended consequesnces...well thats how our myopic MPs would like to spin it. The truth is, if you destroy pensions in the private sector, you will naturally have people staying in the workplace until they are 70 or older. How the hell are the young people of today meant to get on the ladder with older people clinging on at the top. It was always going to be a disaster and the disaster is now.

Coney Island

English Pensioner said...

I'm having some building work carried out.
The ground works were done by an Irish brickie and a Romanian Labourer.
Whist our youngsters may not have the skills to lay bricks, they ought to be able to dig foundations, mix cement and the like. Unfortunately for the majority that would be hard work. As a point of interest, the Rumanian spoke better English with a wide vocabulary than many of our youth that I've met over recent years.!

Anonymous said...

Radders, I enjoy your blog and I think normally you've got your finger on the pulse.

However in this case, isn't this post 20 years too late?

We now have three generations of ingrained unemployment to deal with, and the effects upon our civil society are there in black and whiote for all to see. Combine this with an overall drop in welfare payments that is inevitbale (mostly becuase we're simply skint) and it doesn't look good.

Now I appreciate that there are going to be willing kids coming out of schools and uni who will want to work, but the current welfare system actively works against flexible work engagements of the type you describe, not to mention onerous employer obligations.

So we come bnack to the same answerr as I think adresses most of thje topics you write aboput.

We need LESS government, and the bits we keep need to be loyal to us, the people, not the EU, Corporations etc.

Are we likely to see this - well not in my lifetime I think, and I'm 39...

Anonymous said...

When were the last two significant occasions when youth unemployment was dealt with?

Span Ows said...

Anon 19:55...didn't we just remember that?

Greg Tingey said...

Like I said before (but the comment got eaten...)
Complete utter tosh and codswallop.

What about those over 35, well-qualified and unable to get work?

You'd think a 47-year-old with a NEW M.Sc. in Engineering (and already having an Electronics HNC and a Physics degree could esily get work, wopuldn't you?
(In 1994, this was)

I have never used that qualification, and indeed spent most of the time since then in low-paid or part-time work or mostly, unemployed.
And I live in London ...

If you hear/see a politician/member of the CBI or IoD say: "we can't get the traine staff"

He or she is a deliberate public liar.

Anonymous said...

Um, does one think that David Milliband reads this blog:

(Sorry that you have to be a subscriber to read this, but the headline is:

"Youth unemployment a timebomb, says Miliband"