Help our young jobseekers, we can not afford another lost generation - Cllr Tipper (From Halesowen News)
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Help our young jobseekers, we can not afford another lost generation - Cllr Tipper
11:36am Thursday 4th October 2012 in Letters
According to the most recent figures I could find, across Sandwell nearly 1 in 5 people aged 16-24 are currently claiming JobSeekers Allowance. There are lots of people in my ward working hard to combat this – there are regular jobs clubs at Cradley Heath library and the Salvation Army, for example – and lots of complex issues underpinning it, not least George Osborne’s suicidal economic policies. However, I’d like to focus on one aspect of getting people into work that I think we do particularly badly: providing good quality advice on careers.
Having scrapped the highly effective Future Jobs Fund and slashed funding for Connexions, the advice service for 13-19 year olds, it doesn’t seem like the Coalition believes the state has much of a role to play in all of this - but that’s by the by. I’d like to see business take a more active role in offering career guidance, perhaps by sending people into schools and colleges to talk to students. If you think you’d like to work in engineering, for example, surely it would be helpful to hear exactly what skills and training your prospective employers value? It needn’t be all that time consuming for the companies involved, it wouldn’t cost much, and the potential benefits are obvious.
The British education system also remains one of the most complicated and class ridden in the world, especially in higher education. Middle class parents are usually taught how to zealously pilot their children through it, but bright, working-class kids from Cradley Heath that aspire to go to university don’t necessarily have access to the same pool of knowledge or experience. If we want more ordinary people to enter the professions – and if we don’t, we should – then we need to invest more time and money in guiding them through the maze of courses and applications.
Why push for this now, you might ask, when finding any job at all is so difficult? Well, I speak from experience when I say that unemployment is that much harder to bear when you feel like you have no plan for the future, like you’re permanently drifting. If we can give people a better idea of the practical steps they can take to build a better future, maybe we can help tackle that sense of purposelessness. We can’t go back to the 1980s. We can’t afford another lost generation.
John Tipper, Councillor for Cradley Heath and Old Hill.