My 21-year-old grandson Perry and his mate Lloyd came round the other day. They wanted me to look over their CVs before sending them off into the murky unknown.
I feel desperately sorry for them. Both have completed trade courses – one as a plumber, the other as a carpenter. Yet no tradesman will pay the cost of an apprenticeship. No experience, no job.
They aren’t alone. A total of 240 young people in Portsmouth have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for over six months.
Nationally, a million youngsters are jobless. A former children’s commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, warns that the coalition’s ‘savage’ cuts risk robbing a generation of the chance to improve their lives, and crushing social mobility.
Many young people will never realise their full potential. The Prince’s Trust says increased numbers of young people in the south east are suffering from mental health problems brought on by unemployment. One in four of 16 to 25-year-olds suffers from insomnia, more than a fifth have self-harmed and one in five feels depressed.
The government is stuffed with billionaires whose education at Eton, Westminster and Oxbridge ensures them power and a well-paid job. No wonder their view of young people is of scroungers, lazybones and benefit cheats.
So they abolish the education maintenance allowance, increase university fees to deter poorer students from continuing in education, and scrap the Future Jobs Fund – which provided work for youths for at least six months.
Add to that the dozens of other policies falling heavily on the young: cuts in youth work, youth justice, volunteering, legal aid, sports and arts, Connexion services and the Working Neighbourhood Fund.
This spells the end of hope and expectation for many young people. It is happening in a society that has rising enrichment alongside rising impoverishment.
Thus, while students struggle with lifelong debt, the Vice Chancellor of my Alma Mater, Birmingham University, gets £392,000 annually, an 11 per cent rise over the previous year. Tell young people like Perry and Lloyd that we are all in this together.