David Cameron has recently revealed plans that would see the ‘unemployed young’ work in the community in order to receive benefit payments. Under the plans NEETS, (Not in Education, Employment of Training) between the ages of 18 and 21, who have been out of work, education or training for more than 6 months. They would be required to do daily work experience, amounting to 30 hours of work per week, alongside 10 hours of job hunting, in order to receive the base Job Seeker’s Allowance of £57.35 per week.
The plans have been met with controversy, with some people suggesting that young people already have it too hard, whilst others believe it is a great idea and would encourage a working attitude among young people.
Young people do not have it easy. Fact. As students we are all too aware of the crippling course fees, the difficulties in surviving university on a small student loan and the increasing costs of living and necessary course material – and let’s not mention paying for any societies. Luckily for students, we are still in education and as such will not be affected by this. Nevertheless, university is a costly period, so spare a thought for all those 18-21 year old’s who still rely on the bank of mum and dad, for whom university is not on the horizon, and who are desperately looking for some form of employment, education or training. Surely by enforcing more restrictions on these members of our society it will only cause more distress to these people, but also more distrust of politicians who, in theory, are looking out for the best interests of the constituents that they represent?
However, is there anything wrong with requiring young people to work, if after 6 months they still are not in employment or training? Not only would they be gaining work experience which employers love, but they would also be putting back into their community, from cleaning up parks to making meals for the elderly. Although it does seem a little outrageous that young people would be paid less than £2 an hour to do roles that other people get paid at least minimum wage (£6.50) for, surely it is better that they are doing something other than sitting at home making no progress, or worse still, lingering around the streets.
I say this, not because of the purported inevitability, that this is the path of the unemployed young, but because given the time period of 6 months, and the opportunities that young people have, it seems a fair step, to ask them to work. Jobs and training are available, and from personal experience, I know that if you look for them, you can find them, so 6 months without anything seems a fair amount of time.
Overall this seems like a reasonable idea conceptually, and indeed Labour have similar policies, thus it seems that something along these lines will be in place in the next few years, regardless of the result of the general election. But by being paid a pittance for a job that professionals do, and get paid a proper wage for, this is unlikely to sit well for most young people, as it is incredibly unfair.