Tag Archives: youth unemployment

Workfare Is A Betrayal Of Our Children And We Will All Pay The Price In Time


Most of the UK’s successful creative people were probably once a NEET – meaning someone under 25 who is not in education, employment or training.  Tom Jones was famously revealed as workshy by his Jobcentre records before going on to become one of the most successful recording artists the UK has ever seen.  Top pop star George Michael even rapped about his experience of unemployment early in his career.  And he turned out all right.  Mostly.

There are just under one million NEETs in the UK, but most of them don’t stay that way for long.  Few make a perfectly seamless transition from education to work, so almost every 16-25 year old will have been a NEET at some point.  Around 15% of NEETs are currently unable to work due to sickness or disability.  Some of them will be in hospital.  Many NEETs are mothers with very young children or babies.  Others will be posh kids, dicking about on gap years or frittering away trust funds.  Prince Harry was a NEET for a while.  The term isn’t very helpful to describe an economic or social group. But it serves its real purpose, to smear the young as lazy or feckless.

Only around half of all NEETs are unemployed, meaning on unemployment benefits, or actively seeking work.  That’s still about half a million and the reason for this is because there are not enough jobs.  In a highly competitive labour market the young will always suffer as they are forced to compete with older, more skilled workers.

Employing anyone comes with a risk attached.  This is one of the costs of doing business.  Employers have sought to push this cost onto the tax payer and unemployed people themselves by operating government backed ‘try before you buy’ style workfare schemes.  It is not uncommon for young people to be expected to stack shelves in supermarkets for two months without pay.  This would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago.  Now both of the main political parties support this kind of grotesque exploitation.

The reason this situation has emerged is the constant bleating from employers that the latest generation are so lazy they are virtually unemployable.  Yet young people are working longer for less money than they have in decades.  It is a transparent lie, as is the ludicrous slur that young people need teaching how to get out of bed in the mornings – kids have to do that almost every day of their life until they leave school.

Another advantage of bosses claiming the young are lazy and unskilled is that it also allows them to dump some of their training costs onto the tax payer via the education system.  McDonalds would have schools teaching kids how to fry their  fucking hamburgers if they thought they could get away with it.  The entire  education system, from primary schools to universities, is becoming based on the needs of business, not learning for its own sake.  And this too has happened because of endless whining from bosses that this generation is the worst yet.  Until the next one who they will tell us are even worse.

The truth, as Tom Jones and George Michael shows, is that NEETs are one of the most valuable assets that a society can possess.  Young people, left to their own devices and even on meagre resources, can do incredible things – and this does not just apply to the young.  From Harry Potter to Glastonbury Festival, great cultural institutions would almost certainly never have emerged without a functioning social security system.  Young unemployed people already carry out huge amounts of unpaid work, as genuine volunteers, looking after children or acting as carers for older relatives.  Many work on their own intiative, organising gigs, making music, fucking about with computer programmes or making youtube videos that hundreds of thousands of people enjoy.  This  form of unpaid work created the UK’s once thriving music industry.  In the age of user generated content, young people with time on their hands are now driving technology and online entertainment.

A society with any common sense would not just recognise this vital, energised and creative resource but cherish it.  It would accept that young people themselves are the best placed to decide their own destinies in the future they will create.  That they need and deserve time, space and opportunities to be able to plan their lives for themselves.

This would require a higher education system that is flexible and accessible, not one that forces young people to take on eye-watering debt.  It would mean providing genuine training, in real skills, not shoddy workfare schemes or so-called apprenticeships that are little more than an excuse for employers to dodge the minimum wage.  It means allowing young people the time to explore their creativity if they wish, and providing funding for them to do so.  A society like this would trust its young people, not fear them.  And it would pay them a fucking wage if they are working for an employer.

Instead the opposite is taking place.  The young are demonised as lazy who need to be punished with forced work and benefit sanctions.  What is fast emerging is a kind of state-planned employment market, where Jobcentres decide what work young people will do and if they refuse they are punished with poverty.  That work is almost always low paid and insecure, and as most normal people if not politicians know, it is easy to get trapped in a job that leaves you so exhausted and demotivated that you end up not looking for anything else.  Bogus Traineeships, Apprenticeships and workfare are de-skilling the young, the opposite of their claimed intention.

Of course not all young people are perfect.  There’s some proper little bastards out there, often as a result of broken or traumatic lives. But they are a tiny minority, and the very worst thing you can do to someone on the edge of a criminal lifestyle is stop their benefits.  These kinds of young people will not be incentivised by benefit sanctions to take up low paid work.  Not when there’s yuppies to be mugged.  Take away the social security system for this group and you create a small but ferocious outlaw class.  There is no shortage of predators who will fill the vacuum created by an absence of any support at all for the troubled, isolated and angry youth.

Both Labour and the Tories are now competing to show who can be tougher at bullying young people off benefits.  Both are proposing workfare schemes that are unworkable in practice, there already isn’t enough unpaid work to go round.  Both are committed to using brutal benefit sanctions to force the errant young into line.  But creating back of the envelope forced work schemes designed to pander to misinformed prejudices about the feckless youth is the politics of the gutter.  We will all pay the price in time of their betrayal of our children in the name of a pat on the head from the fucking Daily Mail.

Take part in a day of action at jobcentres across the UK on 25 February 2015 in support of the unemployed activist arrested for supporting a claimant at Arbroath Jobcentre.  Details on Boycott Workfare’s website, please spread the word.

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Young? Unemployed? Don’t Expect A Job At The DWP

mcvey1“I have always said that I will do everything I can to help equip young people with the skills they need to get their foot on the ladder – everything I can to encourage employers to open their doors to young people – and everything I can to support the youth of today to get on in life.”  Esther McVey responding to employment statistics February 2014

Despite endless government initiatives aimed at bringing down youth unemployment, just 1% of staff at the DWP are under 25 in a workforce that numbers almost 100,000.

The shocking admission comes in the department’s annual equality report which also shows that only 4.3% of DWP workers are between the ages of 25 and 29.   These figures come despite the Employment Minister Esther McVey repeatedly trying to tell us that young unemployed people are on of her ‘key concerns’.  Turns out she’s far more concerned about forcing young people to work in Poundland for no pay then she is about using her department to actually give people a real job.

Whilst anyone under 25 who wants to work at the Jobcentre should probably spend some time experimenting with drugs for a while first, these are damning statistics for a government that pretends to care about youth unemployment.  The truth is that just like every other grasping employer, the DWP has no interest in providing any genuine help for young people to get started in a career.  Why would they, when they can staff their offices with young people on unpaid ‘work experience’ instead of actually paying them wages.

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Prince’s Trust Reports Despair Amongst The Young And Thinks Workfare Is The Answer

Top pop star Tom Jones was famously a benefit scrounger.  Today he'd have been sent on workfare.

Top pop star Tom Jones was famously a benefit scrounger. Today he’d have been sent on workfare.

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.

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Youth Unemployment Soars By 5%

Chart 12: Unemployment rate (aged 16+), seasonally adjustedunemploymentratechart_tcm77-303128Today’s unemployment figures, conveniently released on budget day, make a mockery of George Osborne’s reckless job market predictions.  Youth unemployment rose by 48,000 people this month, almost 5%.  This is despite record numbers of young people on workfare who are not included in the figures which also cover the busy Christmas period.

Unemployment overall rose by 7000 and the number of people unemployed over two years by 2000 – despite the floundering £6 billion Work Programme aimed at helping long term unemployed people find jobs.

Osborne’s lie today that a million new jobs have been created unravels simply by looking at the graph above.  These so called new jobs are in many cases workfare, part time or tax credit funded and low earning self-employment.

The truth is that the unemployment rate has been as flat as the economy ever since this Government weren’t elected.  The situation is little better than at the peak of the first recession.  And now it is rising again, which if it continues will throw all of today’s budget’s benefit bonanza for business into chaos.

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