YOU CAN ALWAYS STACK SHELVES

The left has always looked for an analysis of society and events that goes beyond the usual, that delves deeper than what is usually uncovered in conservative media circles.

That's why I was pleased to see Henry Porter talk frankly about the effects on young people of the economic downturn on Sunday's comment is free. Porter seems to recognise and say explicitly that the major losers in Britain during this financial downturn will be young people.

Youth unemployment, (ages 16-24) now stands at a staggering 16.1%. New Labour's focus on skills and education for all, though admirable, had one vital stumbling block. Skills and education can be wasted if jobs are not there. This is the case all over Europe, young, talented and educated people from southern Italy to Greece know only too well, skills and education on their own are useless. New Labour's faith in the invisible hand of the market has once again proven ill-founded. Although there will be high numbers of graduates in 2009, reports suggest the number of graduate level jobs has dropped by almost half.

Gordon Brown has responded by announcing his national internship programme. A good short-term fix but it will not stop young people's anxiety about stable and long term employment. Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters urged graduates to take lower paid work including bar work or stacking shelves. Well thanks Carl, but I never remember the Government's line after announcing student top up fees being “Go to university, you may end up with a considerable amount of debt and if you don't find graduate employment you can always stack shelves”. The propaganda was a whole lot different; go to university and you well earn more and be a lot more employable. The situation is made a whole lot worse because a living wage is not guaranteed.

Porter goes on to say;

“For the people who are going to pay for the lunatic exuberance of the last decade are not its perpetrators - largely the baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965 - but those born after 1985 and, by the way, several succeeding generations. To put it crudely, my generation has stolen from its children and grandchildren. It is they who will be affected by £20bn per annum shaved off services and for as long as anyone can predict.”

Its not just high levels of unemployment were left with. Climate change and a Government deficit is something we all have to look forward to. Although I welcome the Government's decision to boost public spending and borrowing something will have to give eventually. Tax levels will have to increase or services will be cut. These problems can be traced back to 1979; neo-liberalism and all its failures are coming back to haunt us, and our generation are the debtors. Let's make sure young people work towards putting the final nail in neo-liberalism's long overdue coffin.

by Joe Cox, Compass Youth NEC Member

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