The unemployment rate for 16-23 year olds is the highest it's been in a generation in the UK, with record numbers of university graduates and school levers going straight on the doll. Even though this feels like a fairly recent news story, caused by raised tuition fees and extensive cuts implamented or planned by the fairly new coalition government, it really has been a growing problem for many years now. I graduated university in the year 2009, which, at the time, was considered the worst time since the 80's to leave education, and I struggled to find work for the best part of 6 monthes. During that time I wrote the following little rant, which I forgot about and rediscovered this morning. I think it's worth showing, as it really does convay the intense feeling of failure this kind of unemployment can cause.
"Until recently I had never before had the unique pain that comes from regular visits to the job centre. There is no other place in the world where you get the feeling of sheer lack of self worth that you get from just standing in that building. The job centre is my idea of hell. If hell existed, which it doesn’t, it wouldn’t be full of torture and fire, it would be full of desks and endless incomprehensible forms to fill, which you can only sign if you provide two forms of photo ID, bank account details from the last six months and a gas bill, provided you use a black ink biro pen and stick to block capitals. It’s infuriating, but not just because of the legislative nonsense. By going there you are asking for help, which means you must have first acknowledged that you are in need of help. So to even get through the door you have to admit that you are useless, unless you’re a benefit fraudster, in which case you’ve always known. So you go to a government building set up specifically for people to go in and beg for money. My point is; it doesn’t do much for your self esteem. Being unable to support myself makes me useless, that’s how I feel. Worse is the job centre experience when you realise that the people on the other side of the desks are a bunch of dribbling work shy retard chimps, who understand as much about the system as you do. They seem to just drudge around in limbo, emotionlessly going about everything at a shuffle’s pace. And they managed to get a job, so what does that say about me? The very worst thing is that you know they can’t help you. Things are bad at the moment and will get worse before they get better; all I can do is keep looking and hope for the best. That’s just the way it is. In school I was told that you have to go to university to get a good job, and considering all the stress of exams and applying and everything else just to get into uni, by the end you start to feel like you’ve been conned. You’ve been suckered into a scam and three years later all you have to show for it is a piece of paper and thousands of pounds worth of debt. They told me that if I get in and work hard everything will be ok. Well it’s not. I’m furious at those bastards back in school for that, those fucking liars! All of those teachers and careers guidance people all on the payroll of the nearest university, selling their stock on to be chewed up and spat out, you unbelievable shits. They never expected much from me in school, and I was looking forward to going back and gloating, rubbing my degree in their faces and boasting about my masters, but what’s the point? They know that a masters is just another useless achievement when you can’t even get work in Tesco." (written in 2009)
Since this was written I found work in the same shop (although in a different branch) I worked in when I was in school doing my A-Levels, which essentially means I went through 3 years of education and six monthes of poverty just to get the same job I had in the first place. I since quit the masters course I was doing, not because of money but because it turned out to be more of an evening class where anyone with the right amount of money could get a masters degree, no matter what level of experiance, talent or previouse education in the subject they had. But that's a differnt blog. I started as a Christmas temp in the store, and continued to cling to any temporary position that came up for about a year until I finally got a perminant contract in a position that suited my lifestyle. I'm still struggling to get by, but at least I have the means to support myself now.
I know I sound like a big victim in this blog, even though I've been luckier then most, but I really do feel like I was let down, and I know this must be how a hell of a lot of young people in the UK must feel, and I don't blame them for rioting. It may not have been a very sensible or appropriate response, but they have been failed, and they felt the need to fight back, at anyone.