Unemployment: how can a generation of young be energised into working again?
Question by : Unemployment: how can a generation of young be energised into working again?
We hear a lot about unemployment these days, and most of the time the blame is bluntly or subtly placed on the unemployed (often called bum, lazy, uneducated etc), rather than the economic downturn that really is no fault of the job-seeker and the job-loser. We also hear a lot about ‘today’s lazy youth’, who have forgotten about hard work and earning their keep and instead whine endlessly about cuts in welfare payments. It is apparent that not only are jobs harder to get, but many have also simply given up. Why? I have a theory, and this theory concludes in a question for those who will bear it to its end.
In the early days of capitalism, importance was placed on civic responsibility of the capitalists. Taxes were high for those in high income brackets as it is considered that they reaped profits through the work of national resources (its infrastructure, its people etc). The more one succeeds in the nurturing environment of the capitalist society, the more one was expected to give back. Hard work should equal fair compensation, this was also built into much of the corporate structure, and indeed, differences in wage increases for the lowest and highest paid was not vast as it is now.
Some jobs have historically remained high-paid, some are historically less well considered. This will always stay true, and by and large, those who worked or chose to work these jobs understood that and accepted it as part of their chosen profession. This is while their wage continued to sustain their place in life.
What we see now however, is that these industries are being squeezed hardest while public support continues to fall. Young people are seeing a trend: they either choose to enter finance or face a life of debt and hardship paid for with hard work, if they are lucky enough to get into a job. When there is no dignified, rewarding job left for the youth to take up, when those who would have chosen work if they felt their work returned a just reward – ability to eventually pay a mortgage cannot find any, what path is left to them?
Most people entering the workforce now know that if you’re not rich, you won’t get a cushy job through nepotism, and you have to sell your sweat at a wage that can pay your rent or let you eat three square meals. When your work can only give you a future of more work to sustain your livelihood so you can work more for a late retirement and a meagre pension, what is there left to incentivise them?
If students of architecture, design, hairdressing, nursing, teaching face a future of uncertainty or simply hardship for hardship’s sake, why should they choose to enter employment at minimum wage at all?
Perhaps it’s time the debate was taken back towards the centre. We want people to be productive, that’s the only way to lead to growth, but what is the best way to do that? Would employing twice as many people on half the wage really be the panacea the employment market needs? What bright young spark is going to want to sell themselves to a future of all work and no security? No job security means no mortgage (or a high chance of default, thus rendering previous efforts to nothing), low pay means no entertainment budget, lack of public education funding means social immobility.
How can we inject life into a generation who are disillusioned about their future? With wage wars being fought across continents and no government likely to legislate against the exploitation, can anyone see a way out of the bind? How can we encourage young people to take up unwanted but necessary jobs? As it appears starving them into it wouldn’t work.
Note: Starving people into working for conditions you set is called slavery. This often leads to what we call ‘crime’ as people realise that’s easier in a society where slavery is a no no. Any answers along the lines of: if they don’t want to starve they should work for their keep is therefore going to be ignored as a non-serious engagement with the topic.
@Pete: Funny, I’ve been told that a couple of times, then I see people complaining about the lack of quality in discussion and debates over politics. It’s like people want all three: Quality, Speed, Price. It’s the internet so it’s cheap/free, it took a lot more time than sloganeering and covered more sides, so while it’s arrogant of me to say it, it’s at least not thoughtless. I can give you 2/3 – Swiss engineering, not bad.
@ Robert and Paul.
I’m not sure you read through my (long) question, since I did address that. Investment in the unemployed so that they don’t turn to crime or simply be surviving poor (homeless) means the majority of them will be productive, thus bringing growth.
Thank you, you’ve obviously put thought into this. I do agree with this, as I said in the question, I believe investment in the future is important. Yet we’re in a bind as you point out. Most of the jobs that at least some of those without work would have taken are being made obsolete. As we improve efficiency it is a definite corollary that we need less of a workforce, but that surplus workforce is constantly being generated by population growth.
For many people, money has no real value (they don’t have it, they can’t earn it, they are being blamed for not having it, yet they can’t work for say, bread and rent, because money is everything). For these people, opportunity is what’s im
Answer by Pete
Nobody is going to read all of that.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!