Forgotten Youth

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It seems strange and unusual to me that youth in Britain today have remained largely silent in the midst of one of the greatest economic depressions in living memory.

Where once protest songs and movements were created by energetic young men and women, today’s society seem to have abandoned hope of really making a difference in the UK.

A new report from the International Labour Organization suggests that global youth unemployment will continue to rise for the next five years.  As the BBC reported, “The ILO warned that many young people have given up hope of ever finding a job.”

I was reminded upon reading this of a great piece in the Guardian earlier this year.  Entitled “Young people are rubbish…“, author Suzanne Moore offered a scathing attack on the reprehensible attitudes towards the youth of today, warning that older generations “pathetically downgrade [their] exams” and treat youth like “rubbish”; all the while considering themselves to be the epitome of class and success.

There is much to be said for Suzanne’s viewpoint.  Take the case of Sana Babar, the incredible story of a 19-year old girl from London who has, in 15 months after leaving sixth form, applied for 3,000 jobs and received just four interviews – and no offers of employment.

Such is the situation many young people find themselves in today.  Applying for an endless list of jobs – many of which they never considered themselves doing – and receiving countless rejections, when the employer bothers to even write back.

The situation is grim, and no one can deny that, whatever spin the government choose to put on employment and training figures.

A combination of factors have conspired to lead us to this point.  Whether it is New Labour’s attempts to drive half of young people into university degrees – thereby undermining the value of a degree in general – or the greed of those in charge of the biggest capitalist establishments in the world creating a deep recession, it doesn’t really matter.  For the unemployed young person in Britain, prospects for the future are barely visible.  Less than 40% of graduates expect  to find graduate level jobs, and the recession shows few signs of abating in practical terms for the youth of today.

The situation is receiving token mentions in the British media, with papers and journalists decrying that the situation is “shameful.”  And well it is, but tutting and stating “Gosh, isn’t it terrible” will do nothing to solve the problem.

Today, youth is perhaps more multi-talented, educated and connected than ever before.  To even the untrained eye, one can see the obvious potential for young people to drive forward a boom of new business and technology.  Yet, for now, they are not being given the chance.

Perhaps it is unsurprising that the youth of today remain silent.  Never before have the obstacles before them seemed so out of their hands; never before have they been quite so inaccessible.  The skyscraper headquarters of corporate greed, and the abandoned buildings and social decay in many towns and cities fill their upbringings.

It will take a great deal of change, in almost every aspect of society’s attitude towards youth, for hope to be rekindled.