BACK in December in an article on the possibility of more immigration into Scotland, Solidarity mentioned the high levels of youth unemployment being experienced in that part of the UK. Figures just released by the Government’s Office for National Statistics, (ONS), show that this blight upon our young people is being repeated across the country and at levels not previously seen.
The ONS figures set out that in the three month period up to the end of last December UK unemployment rose by 44,000 to stand at a total of 2.5 million. Within that total youth unemployment in the 16-24 -years-old age group rose by 66,000 to 965,000. Overall unemployment in Britain thus stands at 7.9% with youth unemployment running at a staggering 20.5%. This means that more than one in five of 16 to 24-year-olds are out of work, a record high since the start of the compilation of specific figures for this age group in 1992.
In a hard-hitting lead article in The Times of 15 February 2011 by Anushka Asthana, Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a former Cabinet Office chief economist, spelt out the dire consequences of the failure of both the present and previous governments to tackle the issue. He pointed out that research indicated that early periods of unemployment resulted in a reduction in both employment prospects and wage levels later in life. He said: “Youth unemployment has gone up to close to a million, the highest since records began in 1992. Young people have done much worse in this recession than others…………If the Government doesn’t act it will not only damage the employment prospects of young people now but hurt them for the rest of their lives. So there is a strong case for taking action immediately and urgently”.
Solidarity adds its voice to this call for action to tackle the disgrace of youth unemployment. If the Government does not act and act quickly then we risk losing a large part of a generation to the hopelessness of unemployment and lack of opportunity