Cameron is pricing the young out of education and consigning them to the dole queue

Today’s unemployment figures make for depressing reading, especially for young people, writes Sally Hunt.


Today’s unemployment figures (pdf) make for depressing reading, especially for young people, writes Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU)

As Graph 1 shows, youth unemployment has risen for the ninth successive month to 1.027 million, the highest since records began in 1992, beating the previous record set only last month.

Graph 1:

With the job market getting tougher by the day for young people, access to education and careers advice has never been more important. However, since coming to power the government has trebled the price of going to university, axed vital financial support (such as the education maintenance allowance – EMA) and got rid of the future jobs fund.

The logic behind these decisions is spurious at best, especially when you consider that hiking of the price of fees to £9,000 will force the treasury in the short-term to fund the cost of increased student loans. Similarly, where is the sense in getting rid of the EMA when it paid for itself and ensured thousands of poorer students were able to go to college instead of claiming benefits?

As well being a huge waste of talent the long-term implications of having one million young people out of work and study could be devastating for our economy. The cost of 16-18 year-olds not in education, employment or training runs in to billions every year.

Today’s figures are a worrying reminder we need to do more to help young people get on – not price them out of education and consign them to the dole queue.

Public spending on education in the UK is falling at the fastest rate since the 1950s and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned (pdf) that the government’s austerity programme will cut the living standards of Britain’s families by more than 10% over the next three years. Most worryingly, it concluded that it will be those on the lowest incomes who will suffer the most.

As long as the government continues to erect punitive financial barriers the problem of youth unemployment will only get worse.

The alternative to improving access to education and a good career is a generation with few prospects and little chance to alter their situation.

See also:

Record NEET figures the result of Osborne’s ignorant, short-sighted ideologySally Hunt, November 24th 2011

Stories from the economy, or: The prospects for young people, and other grim talesRichard Exell, November 17th 2011

Million young unemployed figure highlights enormity of the situation hitting our youthRory Weal, November 16th 2011

Clegg under fire over voter registration, party funding and youth unemploymentShamik Das, November 15th 2011

Osborne’s refusal to increase demand leaves young unemployed without hopeTony Dolphin, November 14th 2011

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.