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'This record level of jobless youngsters must be tackled'
His proposal calling on the county council to force its suppliers and contractors to employ a minimum number of young people may have been defeated by fellow councillors, but David Williams remains convinced something must be done to deal with the youth unemployment.
Without strong and determined action, he believes we will be left a ‘jilted generation’.
The latest figures available state that almost a million (960,000) young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed and that although general unemployment has begun to ease a little, the number of young people with no jobs has continued to rise by a further 9,000.
Since this recession began in 2008, young people have carried a terrible burden of unemployment in a way not seen in other economic downturns. Nationally, more than 20 per cent of the unemployed are focused in one small age band.
Another factor that has emerged is that unemployment amongst the young has emerged across a wide range of abilities and skills with record levels of graduates joblessness.
On certain wards in the city, youth unemployment is highly concentrated.
Personally, it is tragedy for a young adult to leave school and find there is no place for them to show that they can blossom in the world of work.
A loss of confidence as they face rejection after rejection can have lasting effect on the individual’s self-esteem.
Faced with no prospects, motivation slows and despair sets in. The damage languishing on the dole creates can last a lifetime.
Nearly 500 young people in the city alone face this personal trauma every day.
The situation is made worse by a Government that seems to suggest that the unemployed are scroungers and cuts their benefits.
The young have been a major target for the Government austerity with changes in housing benefit and support. The fact that even in affluent Oxfordshire, we have six people chasing every job seems not to register with the Government.
In western Europe, the opposite view is taken. Instead of neglecting youth, numerous imaginative schemes are promoted by governments.
Pulling away the Education Maintenance Allowance for young people, underpinning their efforts to undertake training, was a particularly nasty move by the Government, as was the dramatic reduction in funding for vocational training.
The stepping stone of training and placements to build experience has been fundamentally undermined.
We have local job clubs, and various charities are trying to help, but I believe that the city and the county council could help by saying to their suppliers and contractors: follow our lead.
More than five per cent of our staff are aged between 16 and 23 and they should try to help too, by employing young people to that level.
It is not much to ask and only a third of an average age cohort, but it would show we care in what is a critical moment in peoples lives.
For our society, such levels of youth unemployment are dangerous, for we are developing a jilted generation with little respect for our institutions and communities, who they feel have done nothing to help them.
We must do something now.