LETTER:Young and unemployed

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The Independent Online
From Mr Ken Coates, MEP

Sir: The unemployment figures, published yesterday, are a very poor guide to what is happening in the jobs market. In a book which I have just published (The Right to Work: the Loss of our First Freedom), Dr John Wells demonstrates the degree to which the official figures of people out of work have been manipulated. He calculates that a million people are missing from the official count. Young people form a sizeable proportion of those who have been lost.

Figures of people in employment are polluted in a different way but none the less provide startling evidence of the crisis confronting young people. An analysis by John Hughes shows that there are now less than 600,000 young people under 21 in full-time employment. Four years ago there were nearly one-and-a-third million young workers in full-time jobs. Thus, 56 per cent of the jobs for young people have disappeared.

This collapse affects males and females, manual and non-manual jobs alike. Such a huge loss cannot be explained by changes in the structure of the population. The wastage of jobs far exceeds contractions in the youth population.

The Government has claimed that deregulation of the market, and the removal of statutory protection would help create more jobs. We now have overwhelming evidence that the reverse is the case.

Unless determined action is taken, this bleak situation for our young people can only get worse. There is much work that needs doing, and hundreds of thousands of young, energetic people are keen to use their talents and skills.

When young men and women are locked out of jobs, they are also locked out of the consumer society. They don't have the money to spend on the things other youngsters can buy. Nor do they have the resources to set up a household, leave alone find a home of their own. It is impossible to think of a family. That is to say: this generation is being excluded from normal life.

Yours sincerely,


MEP for Nottinghamshire North

and Chesterfield (Lab)


16 March