Rather than being the caused by the limitations of education system, whatever they may be , or the absence of role models; the large increase in youth joblessness highlighted by Christina Patterson (04/01/14) is the product of major changes in the economy and the occupational structure –changes that have been greatly accentuated by the recession. Just as serious is the situation where rather than lacking skills, many more young people now find they are ‘underemployed’ having ended in jobs for which they are overqualified –with around 40% of university leavers ending up in non-graduate jobs.
Although now a major international problem, countries like Germany for example, have at least been able to limit youth unemployment by continuing to operate national apprenticeship systems which ensure high levels of employability and which both employers and trade unions are actively involved.
This type of system make not be easily implemented here, but new types of economic policies are desperately required if youth people are to be prevented from sliding further into despair. Central to this is a recognition that jobs for young people need to be created , rather than being left to market forces. But also that it’s almost as expensive to keep a young person out of work as it is to employ them.
Of course this would require a major redirection and redistribution of resources and the increases in public spending that Labour and the Coalition now both reject. Without a major change in policy direction however, the excellent work of the Princes Trust will never be enough.