Yesterday I took part in the “Choose your future” debate on youth unemployment, organised by the League of Young Voters in conjunction with Microsoft and Euronews. It was a fascinating discussion, which brought to light the issues at the core of the youth joblessness problem that exists across many parts of the European Union. As I said in the debate, the austerity policies adopted by governments across the EU – exemplified by the Tories’ alarming programme of cuts in the UK – have helped create a race to the bottom, in which young people are increasingly disconnected from the jobs market and from society as a whole. A recent survey by The Prince’s Trust, for example, found that 40% of unemployed 16-25 year olds in the UK had experienced problems with mental illness, and that around half of those out of work were in danger of becoming long-term unemployed.
This is something which is good for no one. Not only does put a tremendous strain on the economy, but it risks creating a demoralised and de-skilled ‘lost generation’ of young people. As I wrote in my first Round-Up of this year (https://thehoneyballbuzz.com/2014/01/06/honeyballs-weekly-round-up-121/), rather than adopting counter-productive approaches which cement joblessness and scapegoat young people, governments like Britain’s need to provide genuine opportunities.
With me on the panel were Edit Bauer MEP from the EPP, Rebecca Harms MEP (Greens) and British Liberal-Democrat MEP Phil Bennion. The ECR, the Tories’ political group, and the EFD (UKIP et al) were invited but declined to take part.