A new report by The Prince's Trust confirms fears expressed by this blog as recently as Sunday, that Labour's neglect of the needs of young people over the past decade has lost us a generation.
The report reveals that:
- England and Wales has the highest percentage of prisoners under 18 in Europe and the second highest percentage between 18 and 21
- Youth crime is costing the UK economy £1,000,000,000 every year
- Twice as many 16 to 24-year-olds are classified as not in education, employment or training (NEET) as are unemployed
- The proportion of young people with low-level or no qualifications in the UK compares very unfavourably to competitors such as France and Germany
- Educational underachievement costs £18,000,000,000 each year in lost earnings
- Youth unemployment costs UK tax payers £20,000,000 per week in Job Seeker’s Allowance
- In addition, loss of productivity to the economy from youth unemployment costs over £70,000,000 per week
In his first Budget, Gordon Brown gave a statement of the Government's intent to tackle the debilitating impact of state dependency with a £5 billion windfall tax on the privatised utilities to pay for an ambitious welfare-to-work programme. The scheme envisaged four options for the young unemployed: a government-subsidised job, voluntary work, full-time education or training, or a place on an environmental task force. "There will be no fifth option to stay at home on full benefit," the Chancellor warned. ... A "lost generation" of young people seem to have found Mr Brown's non-existent fifth option.Having so thoroughly identified and described the problem, it is imperative that we now find new ways to re-engage young people and enable them to turn their lives around, helping them to gain the skills and qualifications they need to get a job, especially in the UK's poorest areas.