Youth unemployment

No to Future Jobs Fraud scheme

Youth Fight For Jobs march 2 April 2009, photo Paul Mattsson

Youth Fight For Jobs march 2 April 2009, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The situation for young people looking for work in this recession is still desperate and it is getting worse. Unemployment among under-25s is nearly one million. Wasn’t the message when we were growing up: try hard, do well? What a lie that turned out to be! Instead of financial independence and the first steps on the career ladder, young people find they are thrown on the scrapheap.

Sean Figg, Youth Fight for Jobs national organiser

The response of the New Labour government to youth unemployment has been pathetic. The government is setting up a number of schemes which they say will combat youth unemployment. The largest is called the Future Jobs Fund (FJF). Employers – public and private – are invited to submit plans for job creation schemes.

Successful bidders can then have a share of the £1 billion of public money being made available. The initial wave of successful bidders for FJF money was announced at the end of July. There were 117 successful bids, 62 of which are local authorities.

At this stage specific details of the type, pay and conditions of the jobs these bids will create have not emerged. Successful bidders, when questioned by Youth Fight for Jobs activists, have not been forthcoming in disclosing information. This is ominous.

The politicians shout as loud as they can about the ‘raft of policies’ they are ‘rolling out’ to help young people. But the details are left vague. And no wonder! Before the exact details of the successful bids are even known, the restrictions and limits already placed on the scheme generally make its ability to tackle the issue highly suspect.

For a start the FJF is only open to young people who have already been unemployed for more than ten months. This appears to be a cynical massaging of the unemployment statistics by ministers fearing for their political skins. Long-term unemployment, one of the indicators of economic malaise, is counted after you have been signing on the dole for 12 months or more. The FJF scheme will help keep this figure down by moving young people off to the FJF scheme.

Of course Youth Fight for Jobs would welcome any genuine schemes to tackle youth unemployment. But this is not one. The FJF is not open to 16 and 17 year olds at all, the age group worst hit by unemployment, at nearly 30%. This is probably because in most cases 16 and 17 year olds can’t sign on – so there’s no danger of them adding to the long-term unemployment statistics!

FJF cynicism

And just in case you wanted a bit more evidence about the cynicism of the FJF, how about the fact that placements only last six months and if additional funding is granted to the employer they can’t keep the same individual on. So it could end up being a case of sending them back to the dole queue. But as they would count as a new claimant the government need not worry about damage to their statistics. Talk about cooking the books!

Those ‘lucky’ enough to get on this scheme are only guaranteed 25 hours a week at the minimum wage, although this is at the employer’s discretion. For an 18 to 21 year old this could be as little as £119 a week, an improvement on the dole, but hardly a living wage.

Young people cannot wait for the big-business politicians to act on their behalf. The politicians bailed out the banks without too much hesitation.

If they really cared they would do the same for young people. But they don’t! Youth Fight for Jobs is determined to organise a fightback and build a mass campaign to guarantee a decent future for all young people.

We demand socially useful work for all that want it, which pays a living wage. We demand free, high quality education and training for all that want it. We demand that job shedding companies are taken into democratic public ownership to safeguard jobs.

If the government says it is ‘unrealistic’ and ‘unaffordable’, we say the pro-big business policies that caused the recession are unaffordable and we need socialist employment policies.

On Saturday 8 August, Cardiff and Newport Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) activists took part in a day of action in Newport. Two stalls were set up outside a closed bank. We campaigned on the issue of youth unemployment and how young people are ignored by the government.


Order your leaflets, magazines and posters for the university freshers fairs, colleges and building the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign

Student Socialist Issue 7

Full colour magazine for student activists, £1.50

Includes articles on:

  • What is Socialism?
  • Youth Fight for Jobs
  • Afghanistan
  • Combating the BNP
  • Fighting for women’s rights

Make cheques out to Socialist Students. Send to PO Box 858, E11 1YG.

Other material

  • Youth Fight for Jobs college leaflet
  • Youth Fight for Jobs university leaflet
  • Demonstration for real jobs and for free education on 28 November poster
  • Socialist Students ‘join’ leaflet
  • Other posters: Stop the War, Join Socialist Students, Stop the BNP