The scandal of youth unemployment around the world continues to get worse and worse. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over 75million young people are unemployed worldwide. The Economist magazine (27th April 2013) puts the figure higher at 290 million – that is a quarter of all young people on the planet. Young people are becoming the “lost generation”, facing a future that seems to offer nothing.
The scandal of youth unemployment around the world continues to get worse and worse. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over 75million young people are unemployed worldwide. However, the World Bank has calculated that if you add together all those youth in developed or developing countries who are not in jobs, education or training, i.e. economically “inactive”, then the figure rises to 260 million. The Economist magazine (27th April 2013) puts the figure higher at 290 million – that is a quarter of all young people on the planet.
The crisis has hit the youth jobs market hard. Unemployment has shot up in countries such as Greece and Spain. Young people are usually the first to be sacked and – along with workers in their fifties – the last to be offered the jobs that are going.
In Britain we have seen youth unemployment rising towards the million mark, with long-term youth unemployment becoming an ever-larger segment of that figure. Unemployment generally has remained high, with areas like the North of England being especially hard hit. In some places, youth unemployment has passed the 25% level. Forget the double or triple dip recession, some parts of England have been in permanent non-stop recession for years now.
The only reason the official unemployment figures are not much higher is that people have been accepting wage cuts or part-time working to keep going or have drifted over into being self-employed. Of course, the Coalition’s miserable attempts to resolve the crisis of youth unemployment, in particular, have proved less than useless – the Public Accounts Committee at Westminster has calculated that only one out of every 28 people to use the government’s Work Programme has ever been offered a job. The so-called Youth Contract also looks dead in the water.
The bosses seem to think that there is nothing wrong with laying-off workers, cutting jobs and reducing recruitment. For them it is just about maintaining profits and their own bank balances. In fact they are happy to see so many on the dole, as this can be used to put pressure on workers with jobs to toe the line and accept low wages and long hours. In the 1960s the prospect of a million workers being unemployed was seen as shocking, now it would be viewed by the establishment as a great success, so used to high unemployment have we become.
The labour and trade union movement needs to mobilise around a clear set of demands to fight this situation. If a firm announces job losses, we say share out the work with no loss of pay. If they say they cannot afford this, we say open the books to trade union inspection – we suspect that this will reveal that they can well afford it, they just don’t want to cut their fat profits.
The Economist magazine notes that one factor in young people not getting jobs is that they in particular are held back by a lack of skills, however the report also notes that employer training to give people those skills has sharply declined. The bosses complain about this but are not prepared to do anything themselves. Labour must commit itself to promising all young people a job or decent training. Those workers who cannot get a job must be paid unemployment benefit equivalent to a living wage – they should not be penalised because of the failings of the bosses.
The statistics quoted at the start of this article are shocking; but behind these figures are millions of real people, all facing hardship and despair. Young people in particular are becoming the “lost generation”, facing a future that seems to offer nothing.
Because unemployment is, in the final analysis, caused by the systematic failings of the capitalist system, the only real and permanent solution to this scandal is the implementation of a socialist plan of production with the nationalisation under workers control and management of the monopolies that dominate production both here and worldwide.
Such a programme would provide jobs, proper pay and reduced hours of work. This could be done now. The time has come to stop demonising those on the dole and start acting against the real causes of unemployment – this rotten capitalist system.