The number of young people in England not earning or learning is increasing, figures suggest.
People aged 16 to 24 not in work, education or training went up by 94,000 to 850,000 between 2003 and 2007.
The Tories, who obtained the figures, said it was "tragic" the government had done "so little to help" young people during these "boom years".
The government blamed population growth and said the figures included disabled youths, carers and those on gap years.
The trouble is that, when you are young, you have no work experience. One tends to be caught in the Catch-22 situation of needing x years experience to get a job, and not being able to get the experience because no one will give you a job.
It's not a happy situation, really. One thing that young people used to have in their favour was that, as a rule, they were happy to accept a lower wage in order to get that experience; with lower employment costs, employers could be persuaded to give someone a break.
However, to a large degree, this government has utterly fucked this up. First, it has it increased the cost of employment through a 1% rise in NICs, which directly costs the employer—currently the employer's contribution is 12.8% on top of the 11% that the employee pays. Insanely, the mad fuckers are going to raise it again, which will see even more unemployment. We have to abolish the Ponzi scheme insanity that is NICs, especially since they will not even deliver what was promised.
But the second big elephant, of course, is the National Minimum Wage (NMW), a much-vaunted and heavily-defended Labour policy. But the simple fact is this: if your labour is worth less than £5.35 an hour (or whatever the current rate is), then you will never, ever get a job. And young people—lacking experience and, in all too many cases (thanks to the abysmal education delivered by by the inaptly-named comprehensive schools), any qualifications—are absolutely square in this group.
So why the fuck anyone should be surprised at this news, I'm not quite sure.
The NMW is a fucking stupid idea: as Timmy has pointed out numerous times, if we, as a society, think that some people are paid too little then we, as a society, should be the ones to pay for an increase in their wages through redistribution, e.g. Tax Credits.
This isn't only a moral issue—it is a practical one. If we want young people to get into employment—and I think that you could argue, for many reasons, that it is a Public Good to do so—then we need to make it worthwhile to hire them.
Even if their starting wage is low, the experience that they gain will allow them to command higher wages after a few years. That is, after all, how most of us work up the wage ladder, is it not?