Wednesday, 11 November 2009
WE MUST PROTECT THE YOUNG FROM THE SCOURGE OF UNEMPLOYMENT
Today’s unemployment figures are horrific.
A total of 2.5 million people are counted as unemployed and the number of people who are "economically inactive", ie on long term sickness benefits, looking after a relative (and saving nursing home places), or who have simply given up looking for work (many of them claiming nothing at all, living off their partners’ earnings) has reached an astonishing 21% of the available population, or 8 million souls. The number of jobs available, according to the Office for National Statistics is just over 420,000. So all those who are shouting for people to get off their lazy backsides and look for work should be aware that what they are demanding is an impossibility. There are an incredibly small number of jobs for an incredibly large number of “economically inactive” people.
That’s a proud record for Labour to have as it limps towards a General Election. And that’s certainly not as bad as it will get in the near future. The banks, for example, are promising further job losses, with over 8000 notified this week alone, but yet to take effect.
Mr Cameron (it's not unreasonable to assume that he will be the next Prime Minister) will face a mammoth task in his first few years of government, trying desperately to find work that people can apply for. Because no amount of talking tough about people on benefit can hide that fact that 8 million people out of work does not go readily into 420,000 vacancies. Tough talking in this case only really pleases the non thinker who believes that if the unwashed just got off their backsides and did a decent day’s work the all would be right with the world, but totally disregards how this might be brought about.
Mr Cameron’s economic team may have many ideas about how to get Britain working again but I’m not sure where he will get 7 ¾ million jobs from.
I’ve worked for years with people who are unemployed, both with Jobcentre and with private companies trying to help people into work, and I can tell you without doubt that unemployment is a tragedy. It ruins lives, tears families apart and causes untold misery. The great bulk of unemployed people want a job. Yes, some of them are unreasonable in their demands, and some of them wouldn’t work if their granny’s life depended on it, but that’s a very small proportion.
Huge numbers are unfit for work because of drug and drink habits, low educational attainments, low intellectual abilities, or a string of dependent children. There are other barriers to getting people into employment, but the biggest of all is the lack of jobs.
In my opinion, given the problems that will face Mr Cameron in trying to make good his promises, he must concentrate on the young. Youth unemployment, that of people between the ages of 16 and 24 is close to 1 million, a record high of nearly 20% of that age group.
It is this age group who must be found work. Of course my solutions wouldn’t be of interest to Mr Cameron, because they involve public expenditure. Finding work for people by building an infrastructure suitable to the 21st century, training young people in trades as they go, building railways, roads, public housing to replace the failed and totally unaffordable private housing, improving public transport and trying to bring Britain up to the standard in these things of other northern European countries is how I would create that employment. In itself it would soak up large numbers, who, instead of claiming benefits would have wages, which, being young, they would spend, creating more work. Yep, it’s a well worn idea. Nothing original there!
I know that won’t be Mr Cameron’s way, given his politics, and I respect that, but, what I know for sure is that he cannot allow a million young people to be idle. If he does they may well be idle for the rest of their lives.