Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt: Jobs – why young people are the hardest hit

Labour's Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt

The other day, I was talking to a young woman in Northwood. The good news was she had a job. The bad news was it was on a zero-hours contract and the cost of travelling to her place of work was almost as much as she was being paid to do it.

This is a prime example of how the figures seem to say unemployment is going down and things are on the up – but reality tells a very different story.

A young person looking for a job today is much worse off than in the past – especially if they live in Thanet.

The national unemployment rate for young people aged 18-24 is 11.3% – far higher than for the working-age population as a whole (4%).

In Kent, the 18-24 year-old unemployment rate is 3%, but Thanet has the highest youth unemployment rate in the South East – 7.6%.

And when young people do find work, they tend to be paid a lower rate.

The national minimum wage is £7.83 for people aged 25 and over, but for young people aged 18 to 20 it’s only £5.90 and just £4.20 for under 18s.

People aged between 16 and 24 are the most likely to be on zero-hours contracts. In April–June this year, 6.9% of young people in employment were on zero-hours contracts, as opposed to 2.4% of the workforce as a whole.

Young people on benefits are also the most likely to end up being sanctioned, 70% of sanctions so far imposed under the Universal Credit live service have been on people under 30.

This strongly suggests that sanctions don’t work when it comes to getting young people into employment.

Austerity has hit the younger generation harder than anyone. It’s a huge struggle to get a reasonably paid job, expensive to rent somewhere to live and, of course, nigh impossible to buy a place.

The head of the Financial Conduct Authority warned last year of mounting debt amongst young people just trying to cover basic household bills.

And those young people looking to improve their chances by continuing their education will too often find themselves in a swamp of loans, overdrafts and credit cards.

The government has no plans to address these challenges. They are failing young people across the country.

The jobs fair at Dreamland

A recent jobs fair, hosted by Thanet’s two Conservative MPs, was attended by 1,000 people keen to find work. But those same MPs were mystified that local employers had struggled to find suitable candidates to fill the jobs and apprenticeships on offer.

The root of the problem is that we have an education and training gap in Thanet that needs tackling head-on.

The National Education Service proposed by the Labour Party will offer cradle-to-grave learning that’s free at the point of use.

Labour has also pledged to raise the minimum wage to the level of a proper living wage (at least £10 per hour) for all workers aged 18 or over.

In addition, Labour will abolish zero-hours contracts, promote collective bargaining and protect workers’ rights.

More specifically for Thanet, the local Labour Party is embarking on a series of conversations about how we can kick-start the local economy.

At 7pm on Friday 23 November, we’ll host Neil McInroy, Director of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, who’ll introduce the work he’s been doing around the country to build local wealth. To book a place, click here.

At the same times on Wednesday 5 December, we’ll follow this with a public conversation about Thanet’s economic future, covering all aspects of our society including jobs, education and training, housing, transport, food, energy, the environment and the arts. To make your views heard, click here.

If you have ideas to contribute, please come along. Let’s make this a grassroots revolution.


    • Good point, Glenn Horwood. Like the US government, and every other western government, the UK Labour government spent jaw-dropping amounts of cash to bail out the Banks that had blown the lot on useless investments in the US property market. The Banks had spent their money buying up loads of American mortgages which the householders were incapable of paying back. Because, like in this country, millions of Americans are on very low incomes and really can’t afford the cost of their mortgages. The result is that the US is full of empty, rotting houses that can’t be sold, virtual ghost towns in the “rust-belt” that lost their industries, and millions of people homeless or living with relatives or in trailer parks. But the Bankers are rolling in cash and have just had their taxes cut by their good friend, Donald Trump.
      A lot like this country.
      Time to change to a Labour government that puts people first and , unlike the government of Blair and Brown, doesn’t do whatever the City of London fat cats tell them to do.

      • And left a massive debt burden that led to austerity? It’s the Labour way!! You should watch “St Trinians Great Train Robbery” and the New Labour Government! ” That’s what the Great British Taxpayers for” and “Bleed the Treasury Dry”

        • Glen have you seen the figure of our national debt accrued under the Conservatives it stands at over two trillion and take everything into account 4:8 trllion. More than double the figure before the coalition . So yes your right we owe more now much much more under the nasty spiteful Conservatives than we ever did under the profligate Labour party.

        • Are you sure Labour caused the problems? Didn’t it have something to do with a banking crash caused by buying American mortgage debts? Maybe your memory has become selective or you don’t support facts of historical importance? Are you sure Labour caused the banking crash Northern Rock Lloyds and NatWest problems maybe history is hard to grasp.

          • “Securitization” Northern Rock! Nothing to do with subprime!!But the facts are inescapable Labour and maths, just don’t add up,never did never will,as Harold reminded us so eloquently all those years ago.Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, take note.

  1. In my opinion, the main failing of the Blair/Brown Labour governments (apart from joining the US in its war for oil money in Iraq) was NOT to control the Banks and the City of London investors. If we had more oversight of investment in this country , we could have prevented the ridiculous decisions made by London whizz-kids.
    But this country is hamstrung by the failed belief that businessmen and Bankers know best. In fact, they know what is best for themselves. For the rest of us, there is just austerity.

  2. The cause of the banking crisis was a failure on several levels. The repeal in the USA of the Glass -Steagall Act, led to unrestricted leveraging of debt and insecure, securitised debt packages,consisting of home loans to individuals manifestly unable to repay those loans.
    In the UK,Ireland and Iceland etc financial institutions grew too big to fail and an unrestricted property and consumer boom left many in extreme difficulties.
    The UK made it worse because of the lack of adequate oversight of the banks. After the Overend + Gurney failure in 1866, which led to a huge economic down turn,the bank of England was given powers of oversight over the banks. Post millennium, this oversight was restricted and the FSA was given greater powers, which it failed to use wisely.
    Quantitative easing or the printing of bonds to created capital shored up the banks, but did not assist the economy. Less than 10% of QE was used to grow the economy.
    One club austerity where only expenditure, especially local govt expenditure was both inept and ineffective as the current account or deficit is still there and after 8 years growth is low and anaemic.The national debt has also ballooned.
    Locally, our economy relies too much on precarious seasonal work, which is neither remunerative or stimulating for those carrying out the work.
    What is needed is a) Infrastructure spending as the local infrastructure is poor and the planned spending too little and poorly conceived. b) Training and education and lots of it. c) Regeneration for our failing Town Centres and d) Investment in manufacturing of all sorts, especially green energy engineering.

  3. The problem you have, Dr Gordon-Nesbitt, is that no Labour government has ever left office with unemployment lower than when it started. I assume you are aware that the number of unemployed people increased by one million in Labour’s last term in office? Perhaps you just don’t like to dwell on it.

    Rather than spend your time criticising the people of Thanet and what you suggest in this article is their unsuitability for local jobs, you should devote much more effort to considering why every time Labour get into power they leave our economy weaker with more borrowing, higher taxes and more debt – with the hard working people of Thanet paying the price. Jim Bob From Broadstairs.

    • It doesn’t seem to me that Dr Gordon-Nesbitt is criticizing the people of Thanet in this article.

      Roll on the advent of a proper socialist government with not a hint of blue!

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