The government does not care about young people

Young people don’t care who brings down youth unemployment, ends unpaid work and takes control of the rental sector - we just want a party that cares enough to try

Share

The government is keen to express how much it cares about young people.

In an Opposition Day today, Labour will call on the Coalition to force companies - awarded government contracts over £1 million - to offer apprenticeships to 16-18 year olds. The party quotes (but does not qualify) recent statistics which suggest the number of apprenticeships are actually down 9,200 from the same point last year.

The government will probably counter it is doing everything it can to help young people back into work already, and no doubt never miss the opportunity to attack Labour’s economic record as the problem in the first place.

But while the government and the opposition lock horns over semantics and hyperbole in the warm cocoon of the Commons chamber, young people continue to struggle through their unpaid work experience placements everywhere from Poundland to Parliament itself. They face choosing whether to pay down their mounting debt, cover rent or heating bills and generally wonder whether it will ever get better.

Enter Shaun Bailey. He is a London-based youth worker and Special Adviser to the Conservative party on youth and crime. His job is to give the Tories the best research and advice on its youth policy. He is no doubt a great advocate of young people’s rights and opportunities but it comes at a price.

Writing for the Independent immediately before the General Election in 2010 where he stood as the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush he said: “The development of a whole generation is being stunted. They will enter work much later, if at all, and the longer they spend out of work the less they are developing personally.”

He blamed this on the rise of welfare dependency amongst young people and said during the last recession people were more willing to depend on the state as they had done previously.

Since his appointment, Bailey has been incredibly critical about the Coalition policies such as police cuts, the cuts to youth services and the attempted cut to housing benefit for under 25s. But one thing he has always remained silent on is the culture of unpaid work that blights the relationship between young people and their prospective employers.

This ambivalence is perhaps why he decided to advertise for an unpaid intern to work on a community project. The role would involve working three to four days a week in central London with ‘some’ unspecified expenses.

A spokesperson for Mr Bailey said the entire project was volunteer led and he himself was not taking a salary: “We called the role an internship because we hope to be able to teach the successful candidate a number of skills, such as policy analysis, that are rarely taught to young people just starting their careers.

“Over the course of this short internship, we also hope to develop their professional networks and help mentor them in their future career choices.”

Now a non-profit community project which, presumably, will do good for young people, is not on the same scale of abuse as work experience placements stacking shelves in Poundland or becoming a general lackey for profit making companies, but it is still effectively condoning it.

If you can’t afford staff and want to get young people involved in the project fine, but there are better ways to go about it. Instead of taking on one person to work full time, take on four to work one day and call them ‘volunteers’. Or even take on eight to work half a day per week.

An internship is a loaded term demonstrating it is preparation for employment. A volunteer gets involved out of the goodness of their own heart; they do it for the personal rather than professional reward.

Mounting debt, being unable to pay the rent and an over-reliance on the state are only symptoms of this wider problem. Every major political party’s position on youth unemployment seems to be nonsensical.

They want more young people in work and off benefits but think this can be achieved with unpaid work. This represents a massive disconnection with the realities of everyday life or even common sense.

If employers don’t have to pay their staff, they won’t. If their staff does not earn money they need to get money from somewhere and are forced onto the mercy of the state. If the Coalition is serious about making work pay they should not be advertising for work that doesn’t pay. 

You can’t pay your landlord in skills and experience.

The Bradford West byelection last year was a profound shock to the political establishment, far more so than any UKIP upsurge in Eastleigh. While UKIP was an older, middle class protest vote, the swing in Bradford towards Respect demonstrated young people could no longer be prevailed upon to vote among the ‘clan’ lines of their parents and grandparents.

Young people don’t care who brings down youth unemployment, ends unpaid work and takes control of the rental sector. We just want a party that cares enough to do that and from the poor showing of the current cohort, it doesn’t look like that will be happening any time soon.

The Liberal Democrats betrayed us. UKIP and Respect remain charisma-led protest parties with stunt policies. The Greens only have one policy. Labour merely use us as a stick to beat Cameron with at PMQs and attract a stronger showing in their city constituency strongholds. Conservatives see us as problem to be contained and ‘dealt with’; their association of youth issues with crime reduction rather than unemployment reduction speaks volumes.

The government and its opposition don’t care about young people; they only care about their parliamentary majorities. So it’s time for young people to stand up and say so.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the strange case of the errant royal pronoun

Guy Keleny
Flowers and candles are placed at the site where a refrigerated truck with decomposing bodies was found by an Austrian motorway  

EU migrant crisis: The 71 people found dead in a lorry should have reached sanctuary

Charlotte Mcdonald-Gibson
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future