By Elaine Dougall
Youth unemployment in the UK is spiralling out of control with more than 1 million 16-24 year olds (over 22.5%) across the UK out of work, the highest levels since comparable records began in 1992. But the national average merely hides geographical and demographic variations which paint a far bleaker picture…
Geographically, economic black-spots in Scotland like North Ayrshire have been burdened by youth unemployment rates averaging at more than 30% over the last two years. Demographically, unemployment among young black men has doubled in three years, rising from 28.8% in 2008 to 55.9% in the last three months of 2011.
Yet in the UK, such are the new depths being reached across Europe, ‘experts’ have argued our crisis is fortunate compared to others. In Greece in and Spain youth unemployment hovers around or above 50%. That’s a catastrophe, not a crisis.
We can’t go on like this.
How can we seriously debate and shape youth unemployment problems if the very people impacted by it are not at the centre of the solutions? Now, more than ever, we need robust proposals for strategies contributing to the wider debate for the alternative to a neo-liberal economic and social agenda that’s been struggling on life-support since 2008.
Mainstream party politics won’t deliver the alternative, only people can. It’s the same in the context of youth unemployment as it is in any issue whether its pensions or pay. And young people should be given every platform possible to offer up their views on the alternatives and have the chance to implement change.
Who else understands the problem better?
So what are the ideas from the ‘lost generation’? How did we end up here and what are the barriers confronting young people? How can young members deliver change for themselves, both local and national, and help to sustain their future and the future of the union?
At Unite’s policy conference in Brighton next week, Unite Scotland is hosting a fringe event, ‘Ideas from the ‘Lost Generation’, to discuss this problem. This is an opportunity for all our conference youth delegates, and delegates with an interest in the youth unemployment crisis, to come listen to our speakers and join the debate.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Elaine Dougall, Women’s and Equalities Officer, Unite Scotland
Monday 25th June 2012, Brighton Centre, Top Floor Restaurant, 12.30 – 2PM