Our young people are our future. I don’t say that as a vague platitude or as the father of young children but in a very practical sense. They are tomorrow’s doctors, nurses, construction workers, teachers, retail workers and so on.
Or rather they have the potential to be.
Parliamentary arguments over the economy can often seem a bit detached and fuelled by political point scoring but they have very real consequences.
We are facing a crisis of youth unemployment. The latest figures make for grim reading and show there are now over one million young people out of work – that means nearly one in four 18-24 year olds is unemployed; the highest number since records began. That is a disaster for our young people and a disaster for the future of Britain.
Worse, it now appears that unemployment is becoming entrenched. The number of young people claiming JSA for over six months is rocketing:
In Hastings & Rye the figure has jumped 83% in the last year. In Bexhill & Battle the figure is up 53% and Eastbourne 218%!
Spending so long on the dole at a young age can have life-long consequences. Far too many skilled youngsters are being left frustrated and idle because the jobs they want simply don’t exist.
We often hear Conservative Ministers blaming unemployment on laziness or scrounging but the truth is that in some of these places there are up to 20 JSA claimants per vacancy at the job centre! This is a jobs crisis not one of apathy.
The Government is creating a jobless generation, with more young people out of work than ever before. It is painfully clear that the Government’s welfare to work programmes are not doing the job and the time for dithering is over – Ministers must act now before a generation is left scarred by their mistakes.
As part of Labour’s five point plan for jobs I want to see a £2billion bankers’ bonus tax with the proceeds invested in up to 100,000 jobs for young people and a tax break for small firms taking on new employees.
We need to get the economy going again and we need to protect our young people from the blight of unemployment.
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