Unemployment amongst 16-24-year-olds has risen by 50% in the last decade to over 1.2 million. One in six young people are now classed as “NEETs” (Not in Employment Education or Training). Unemployment is nothing new – but in the past it was cyclical. Modern circumstances, including the way that many of the old entry-level jobs have now been replaced by machines and technology, suggest that the trend could continue relentlessly downwards.
Long-term job tenure has fallen by 25% since 1975, and the percentage of jobs now performed as part-time labour has risen correspondingly. For school-leavers and graduates, the pressure to undertake no-pay internships has intensified, with a direct impact on social mobility – as only the wealthy can work for free. Job-seekers in the labour market are now also having to compete with increasing numbers of older workers who want – or have – to take jobs after traditional retirement age.
Addressing the critical problems of youth unemployment requires concerted policy initiatives and investment from those who have the power to do something about it – politicians and employers of the older generations. For this reason alone employment can be seen as an intergenerational issue. Failure to address it equitably could be felt by many generations to come.