The Prince’s Trust released a report over Christmas about the impact of youth unemployment which revealed that a third of young unemployed people have had suicidal thoughts.
The charity’s report makes grim reading with almost one in five long term unemployed young people reporting that they feel they have nothing to live for. The results of this survey paint a picture a world away from the usual stereotype of the young unemployed and reveal a generation growing up without hope.
The tragedy is that young unemployed people have historically been one of the UK’s greatest cultural assets. Enduring institutions such as Glastonbury Festival, or even The Beatles, would never have emerged without young unemployed people. Now they are smeared as scroungers, accused of being lazy or workshy, despite the lack of jobs. A social security system that at least allowed young people to study, genuinely volunteer or develop their creativity whilst they were unemployed has disappeared. Instead all that is on offer are endless workfare schemes, or shoddy Apprenticeships that are little more than a chance for companies to dodge minimum wage laws.
Any attempt by young people to take control of their own lives – by doing a course, arranging a volunteer placement, or developing a new skill, is quite likely to end in a benefit sanction. Instead Iain Duncan Smith wants people working for free, or endlessly sending out mass applications to jobs which often don’t even exist posted on the farcical Government job-seeking website Universal Jobmatch.
Astonishingly, The Prince’s Trust seem to think that more of the same is the answer to the bleak future the young face. As pointed out by Boycott Workfare, the charity has recently launched a huge workfare scheme, aiming to provide 100,000 unpaid work placements at major British companies including arms company BAe and workfare veterans Tesco. Tesco in particular will be pleased. In 2012 the company were forced to pull out of the Government’s Work Experience scheme after a huge protest from their customers over their use of unpaid workers. Now, with the connivance of a charity, they can ethically spin their use of workfare, pretending that they are simply helping all the depressed young people the Prince’s Trust identified in their report over Christmas.
An organisation fronted by the future King of England could be using their financial and political influence to encourage employers to give young people proper jobs, on a living wage. Instead they seem happy to join in with this Government’s obsession with making young people work for free on schemes that will only cut the number of paid positions available.
The Prince’s Trust will no doubt plead that these schemes are voluntary and not part of a Jobcentre programme – possibly rendering them illegal under minimum wage laws. But unpaid work for profit making companies is still unacceptable. Greedy bosses shouldn’t be in business if they can’t afford to pay wages. For a charity which claims to help young people, The Prince’s Trust support for this exploitation is obscene.
These workfare schemes will not be voluntary once Jobcentres get hold of them. George Osborne has already announced that unemployed people under 22 who refuse unpaid work experience will be forced to carry out 780 hours ‘community work’ instead. The Prince’s Trust may claim that their scheme is not forced labour, but this Government has very different ideas.
The Prince’s Trust report can be found at: http://www.princes-trust.org.uk/macquarieyouthindex/index.html
Read all about benefit scrounging scum Tom Jones.