Monday, February 02, 2009


Via Snafu, it seems that the number of young people not in education or employment (NEETs) is increasing; the level has been high for a long time, with unemployment in the under-25s running at 16% as opposed to a national average of 6%.
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?


Anonymous said...

Nah, not bovvered mate

Grow me own skunk, and get plenty of dole, innit

Braaaap braaaap

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed. Scrap National Insurance (a tax on jobs), scrap the NMW; and reduce means testing of benefits (you don't need tax credits on top - just don't take away so much Income Support in the first place).

Mark Wadsworth said...

Oh yes, scrap Housing Benefit as well. Nagging parents are the best career advisors.

Anonymous said...

Health and Safety is also to blame.Young men are, by their very nature, often reckless and need a lot of 'watching'.If the employer is unfortunate, and an accident occures, the employers are sent to hell and back, with possible imprisonment and huge fines.All the little bureaucratic Hitlers line up knee deep in paper to try and prove the employer negligent, even when clearly not guilty.It's all part of an anti-working mindset.In todays world no employer can either afford the burden or take the chance.

Anonymous said...

Kids don't get anything between the age of 16 and 19.

Although this problem has other elements. That nice man Mr M Parris said that some people of his acquaintance use the language of eugenics when describing these youngsters...but not some others.


Anonymous said...

1. There was mass youth unemployment in the 1980s, though, wasn't there?

2. Even amongst the youth, the demand for unskilled labour dwindles every year. This recession will make it even more so. I believe half the redundancies I've seen aren't directly because of the credit crunch, it's essentially an excuse for mechanisation to go ahead, featuring the abolition of unskilled jobs. (This is one of the reasons why the uneducated underclass is pretty much obsolete, whereas their grandfathers worked in factories & what have you).

3. A lot of people who work don't urgently need the money, such as students who get parental support, semi-retired, wives whose husbands work, & what have you. In the absence of a minimum wage, they might decide not to bother. This would have more detriment than a rate of £5-something (it's less than that for young people anyway).

4. Before 1998, a lot of those in very low-paid jobs were in receipt of state benefits. Now, a CBI does strike me as a good policy but it is unlikely to be introduced soon, so they would resort to welfare dependency on a scale that would make tax credits (which, btw, I agree are a fiasco) look modest. I do not want to see people claiming housing benefit, council tax benefit, & so on because they can't subsist otherwise. This would outweigh any rise in unemployment.

(b) Those who predicted that the minimum wage would CAUSE mass unemployment are, in my view, wrong. The unemployed of recently would be getting laid off under whatever circumstances, just like in previous recessions.

6. Countries such as Germany have no minimum wage at all, but have persistently high unemployment.

Honestly, I've heard all these arguments against the NMW & I remain unconvinced. It strikes me as one of the least statist ways of keeping people above dire poverty & is far better than the tax credits fiasco or the welfare dependency that would be the fate of many if they earned £1 or £2 per hour.

galbak said...

Late post, but theres another little problem here.

There are Jobs available for young people, Supermarkets are crying out for staff, but the hours tend to be long and pay bad, so kids wont do it for more than a week, lack of education does not help either, as the older staff members cant teach basic maths, and common sence, while doing there own jobs.

BUT... the big problem is the kids own behaviour, the kids that come in every night, causing trouble, and havock, are not going to get a job in 2 years time, cos we remember them.

Alas the adults in charge of most of these teenaged hooligans, wont keep them on a tight leash at home, so they run riot, and its not the supermarkets fault, that were not willing to take a chance on them, with the traditional low wage, long hours, shelf stakers job, that gave so many people there start.

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