Wednesday, October 20

Aimee Bird blog

- April 3, 2012

Normally the idle gossip of girls isn’t anything I would listen to. Instead I would carry on drinking my mocha, reading my book and gazing out onto the streets of Tunbridge Wells without a second thought. But as my book grew less interesting, I found myself listening to a conversation by two recently graduated 6th formers, slowly sipping their lattes while one painted her nails a disgusting pink. Their conversation soon turned towards a subject close to my heart, that of unemployment; and not only for that reason, but also due to the fact it was not a normal topic that would occupy girls natter, I began to listen more intently. Both seemed to be struggling to find a job that was ‘suitable’ for their needs, throwing away such alternatives as Macdonald’s and Tesco’s and discussing how hard it was for young people to get any sort of employment these days.

Understandably the employment market for under 25’s has been hit badly in the last year, with unemployment figures for youths hitting 1 million in June 2011; making up 20.3% of the unemployed in the UK, the highest since records began. With the EMA program being abolished under the Conservatives new attempt to bring youths into actively seeking work, and people claiming benefits hitting 1.46 million, youth employment figures have dropped from 204,000 to 177,000. Of course the recession plays a huge part within this drop, with large companies such as HMV, Blacks and La Senza going into administration and threatening to close down; companies are just not offering the work needed. With less places offering work experience or job opportunities for people with little experience, it is hard to get onto the first step of the working ladder; and with more cuts and threats of closure, the gap for youths to join the job market is rapidly shrinking.

Consequently, I have felt the ‘pang’ of the recession recently for I was working two part time jobs throughout last year until the company I worked for in Tunbridge Wells was forced into administration and closed. However, I am lucky enough to still have my part time job in Brighton while I am studying at University, so I don’t understand why some youths are finding it so hard to get any work. I admit that I have been fortunate in my acquisition of these jobs, but it was also down to a certain amount of desperation, as my university loans seemed to disappear quicker than I was gaining anything to replace them. So I went on the lookout through the internet, walking around and asking friends, and got lucky. I admit that I have worked for over 5 years before I got these jobs, and through my CV and interview experience I was able to acquire them quickly compared to some job position; yet this isn’t a rare occurrence. A friend of mine, after having two children at the age of 17, has been able to find work, even though she has no A level’s or qualifications beside GCSE’s and stretch marks. Admittedly she is a cleaner in Tunbridge Well’s local village of Rusthall, but it is contributing towards the economy, the government and also her children. So why are these young girls, who have evidently done fairly well in their A Levels’ due to the universities they are discussing, struggling to find any sort of work?

Well, the previous Labour government’s employment policy has developed society to a point where it is sometimes more beneficial for people to remain on benefits than to find work. Teenagers are becoming more interested in ‘easy money’, where it requires little hard work and not getting up before 10 in the morning to obtain some amount of money in their bank accounts. Such sites as ‘Ebay’, where everything can be sold and ‘work from home’ adverts are becoming higher priorities on youth’s lists than going out and finding something within local towns. Although jobs are sparse in all areas of the country now, especially less built up and more commuter based areas such as Tunbridge Wells, there is still availability for most things. But is Job Seekers, which offers £50 a week to anyone who signs on, an easier route for youths?

People on Job Seekers for more than 6 months have risen from 7,200 in 2005 to 960,300 in 2010, about 35% of which are under the age of 25. Along with council tax exemptions, housing benefits and councils help on other domestic matters, most people who have been on Job Seekers for 6 months or more see little profit from finding a job that might pay less than the government. They have learnt to adapt to the budget they are given, my mother being another example of this, where she has found that she receives a better quality of life with the government than with any job.

But this isn’t the only problem facing the employment market, as people becoming lazier in their attitudes towards job seeking, so do their methods. In 2007 job applications over the internet, according to the Education Ministry, were averaging about 20,000 a month; however in 2010 it was nearly 90,000. ‘CV dropping’ or ‘face to face’ enquiries seem to be a distant memory for most youths who have lived with the internet since birth. The ‘MTV’ generation, as described by Education Secretary Michael Gove are “not prepared enough from their GCSE’s and A Levels with the skills and motivation needed to deal with the competitive employment market.”

Jobs, I believe, aren’t that hard to find, it is just people that are hard to motivate, as well as societies idea of what are good and bad jobs, or which ones will lose you points on your ‘reputation’ with your peers. Surely, a job is a job.
And do you know what the biggest irony? There was a ‘part-time vacancy’ sign posted less than two feet away from where they currently sat, drinking coffee and ignoring the world.

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