What Next for Ireland's Young?
We are today beset by many crises in this country. The most serious crisis is of course the banking crisis and the money pit that NAMA represents - the crime of the century.
Attendant to that there are several other crisis - the structural crisis in our financial system where we spend more than we take in; the personal debt crisis coming down the line and the disaster that might happen if the ECB raises its interest rates (Although that seems to be unlikely for a while yet - but for how long?) etc.
With the economic mismanagement in this state having been so criminal its no surprise or wonder we are where we are.
Every sector of society, bar the influential minority able to distort the economy to their advantage, are hurting.
One demographic thats hurting particularly bad is young people. Its a grim time to be young in this state. Your chances of getting a job is low to none and if you do get a job then its more and more likely to be a part time job.
Young men have been especially hard hit by the downturn, with the unemployment rate rising to 40% for 15-19 year-olds and 30% for 20-24 year-olds. With no opportunity to get a job many of them are staying on in in education causing a sizable drop in labour force participation rates for those in the 15-24 year-old category.
The situation is grim all across europe / the euro zone. Currently unemployment for under 25s in spain has hit 41%. Thats a staggering figure. For the Euro region the rate in the euro region was 20.1 percent
In the medium term its likely that youth unemployment will continue to rise rapidly. The economy is likely to contract by nearly 2% in 2010.
Its a crisis thats starting to get some focus. Leading British labour economist David Blanchflower, who recently warned that the FF/Green coalition was driving the economy over a deflationary cliff, recently was reported in the Irish Times as having warned that Ireland, like Britain, faced the prospect of a lost generation. He highlighted research that showed those unemployed in there 20s are more likely to be unemployed, have lower health and generate a lower wage later in life. The problem with disadvantage is once you are disadvantaged you are always on the back foot and its hard to get your head above water.
How long will it be before they get back into the labour force and for those who do get back its more and more likely that they will be in part time labour. All across europe the % of workers in part time labour is increasing. Here its gone up by nearly 5%. Its going up because companies are trying to hold onto their staff rather than let them go, so drop them to part time. But the more part times we have the weaker the economy and the weaker the labour force and its power.
How are we going to solve this crisis.
Its a debate we have entered early with our jobs creation strategy and on Irisheconomy.ie economist Liam Delaney is commenting on it as well highlighting the fact that you can hardly condemn work experience programmes, or such active interventions into the labour market, as a failure when its FAS running them. Delaney recommends that the programme be simple be taken away from FAS. Considering the legacy of FAS is, frankly, a shameful legacy of graft and corruption, then it would be a good start. Lets give intervention and job supports an honest chance and not allow it be squandered by a failed organisation like FAS.
But if this state does not resolve the problem of youth unemployment then that will be another shameful legacy for a state tainted so much by graft and corruption.