Don’t be under any illusions: there is an economic war being waged against young people. It is being fought on a number of fronts: education, social protection, labour market and even cultural. The fact that one-in-three children suffer multiple deprivation experiences shows the level of casualties. It is the ultimate victimisation: if you want to buy into that ‘we all partied’ line, knock yourself out; but how can this possibly apply to the young? Young people are no longer being raised to be the subjects of tomorrow; today, they are being turned into mere objects.
A whole book could be written about the war on youth. In this and a subsequent post I just want to highlight a couple of things. They may not be the most important battlefields but they are indicative of a mind-set that, on the one hand, claims to help, but actually targets.
Take the interacting stories presented by the Government: the Youth Guarantee and the cutting of social protection payments for those under 26 (punctuated by the one of the more hilarious rationales for any spending cut – the Tainaste’s claim that youth unemployment payments were actually not cut).
The Youth Guarantee is potentially an extremely positive development. In the Government’s formulation a young person would be offered a job, work experience, apprenticeship, or training after eight months of being unemployed (in the EU Commission’s formulation, the offer would be made within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed). The Government has set aside €14 million for additional job training places. Mary Lou McDonald, TD pointed out that the Government announced only 4,500 additional places (and further pointed out that last year the Government promised 10,000 places and only provided 5,000).
The 4,500 additional places – if they emerge – must be compared to the overall level of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET). The actual number is hard to come (if anyone has one I’d be grateful). We know that there are nearly 65,000 youth unemployed, of whom 22,000 have been unemployed for more than one year. In SIPTU Youth’s analysis, 52.7 percent of NEETs are unemployed. Extrapolating from these numbers (estimating the number unemployed for over eight months which is not a category in the CSO release), I would suggest that the number of young people that could avail of the Government’s scheme would be 74,000 – admittedly, a back of the calculator estimate.