Martina Milburn, chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, calls us ‘the lost generation’.
Lost because more and more of us are facing long term unemployment, mounting debt and declining hope of change.
The ‘lost’ generation, the ‘jilted’ generation, the ‘forgotten’ generation; whatever way you want to put it, it isn’t easy being young in the United Kingdom today.
So it’s no wonder a report released by the Prince’s Trust last week shows that one in ten of us feel we ‘cannot cope with everyday life’, this number rising to one in five of NEETs, 16 to 25 year olds not in employment, education or training.
The survey of 2,136 young people by the charity showed half of respondents admitted to feeling depressed “always” or “often”.
A further 22 per cent also said they felt they had no one to talk to.
This is not surprising given it feels like no-one is listening.
No matter how many times I, or one of my contemporaries, attempt to make the case for youth disillusionment there are many for whom it falls on deaf ears.
We are ‘lazy’, we are ‘spoilt’, we expect too much without too much work. We’re feckless, we’re even ‘feral’ and ‘in the good old days’ we knew our place.
Many believe young people are simply whining because we’ve been spoilt by the prosperity of the past 20 years. That because they earned little money and worked hard for it when they were young, my generation should shut up and do the same.
But what they fail to realise is they entered the workforce during an era of either full employment or a time where there was a chance of paid employment further down the line.
My generation has come of age in an era where our dire employment opportunities are used as material for light entertainment and minimum wage work is seen as a privilege rather than a right.
In some senses, these people are right. We were promised the earth, we were told we could do anything and everything with a university degree. Now this has been exposed as a lie.
But that’s hardly our fault is it? We didn’t ask to get into mountains of debt for jobs that didn’t exist. Instead of treating our crushed hopes and dreams with contempt, maybe it’s time for a little compassion?
We are constantly told to grown up but are repeatedly infantilised by society. We aren’t listened to by politicians but expected to follow the rules they set for us. We are forced to depend on our mothers and fathers because we can’t find a paying job yet are supposed to ‘work hard’.
We have all the responsibilities of regular members of society but none of the same rights.
Societal participation is supposed to be a two way street. We have been denied everything we were promised and society is making little attempt to help us. Yet we are still expected to do as we’re told, keep our heads down and be grateful for any scrap of charity thrown our way.
The question is; why should we? Why should we do what we’re told when we get nothing in return? People say we’re ungrateful but what do we have to be grateful for? Long term unemployment? Debt? Unpaid work?
Why shouldn’t we shout and scream? Why shouldn’t we march on a government that thinks young people should except less and do more?
It’s a miracle that we don’t. In fact this report shows not a sense of anger amongst young people but a sense of bewilderment and fear. We are the lost generation. Lost because we don’t know what to do now, scared of what the future brings but having no idea how to escape from the trap society laid for us.
Simply put, my generation is scared of being left behind. Despite the potential improvement to the economy, young people risk becoming ‘unemployable’ because they could get stuck in the NEET wasteland for too long.
Forgotten and ignored, we don’t necessarily want sympathy, we just need help. This is not necessarily it for us. There are so many bright, talented people in this country who can certainly ‘strive’ for and achieve more. Yet we can’t do it alone. We need guidance, support and, most importantly, compassion from our elders.
Society has already failed us once, if we’re left to get on with it alone now society will have failed us for a second time.
All young people want is dignified, paid and secure employment. I fail to see why that makes us ‘spoilt’.