U.K. Youth unemployment is a massive, and growing problem in the United Kingdom and it appears to be a problem that austerity is only exacerbating. In the post-World War 2 years, citizens were given a free further education and that further education meant that they would be guaranteed jobs. However those guarantees are being eroded by the very people who benefited most from them; this has meant the younger generation is being abandoned.
The baby boomers in charge have generally accepted the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” whilst conveniently forgetting they were receiving a free lunch for years. The youth unemployment rate in Britain is 19%, according to an article from November 2013 in the Financial Times. Rising house prices means higher rents for younger people whilst unemployment benefits along with other entitlements paid to the youth has been decreased – State pensions have not. In an article in The Guardian by Emma Howard from March 2014, it is pointed out that unemployment may have improved slightly in Britain over the past year, but youth unemployment continues to rise; under-25’s are now four times more likely to be jobless than their elders.
The New Labour policy that everyone needs to go to university in order to get a job had not been aligned with a policy of good quality graduate jobs. On average young people today are better educated than the older generation. However, the young have been taught to accept ever decreasing wages and declining living standards compared to the living standards of their parents. This lack of opportunity means that young people find it extremely to afford rent prices. As a result, in Britain aged between 20 and 34 who live at home has increased significantly since 1996; as of 2013 it stood at around 3.3 million, 25% of that age group.
The numbers are similarly bad in the United States. A Wall Street Journal article from April 2013, Ben Casselman put the rate of unemployment for people under 25 at 22.9%. Arguably, no sector of society has been hit harder by the recession. Coupled with this is the crippling student loan debts incurred by a lot of American under-25’s, could means that young people are effectively forced into a job that pays an unfair minimum wage in order to pay it back and because these jobs are so low paying and not very secure, they may have to try and get multiple jobs. This effectively makes going to university meaningless and just another way to get into debt and have to work. This creates dependence on money among many young people, ultimately leaving them less likely to want to rebel against the system they’ve come to rely on.
The longer term impact of this is potentially devastating; as more and more young people are given fewer and fewer life chances, their level of disconnectedness from their representatives will only become more embedded. As a result they will vote less and less thus decreasing the likelihood of them getting any of the reform or opportunities their parents were provided with. This could create a cycle unless young people demanding what is rightfully theirs and the baby boomers in charge remember the ideals they are supposed to represent.
Whilst the needs of young people are continually being ignored, the government in Britain has protected pensions as well as other benefits that are exclusively for older people. A major impact of this abandonment is that for the first time in a century, middle-class youth will be worse off than their parents were. They say life isn’t fair, well that’s because they made it so. The baby boomers seem to have forgotten that the benefits and rights they and their parents fought for were not just for them.