I’m a firm believer in the prosaic method of writing an article that relates directly to the title. So yes, I’m a Conservative party voter. And it won’t surprise you to discover that I’ve got a bit of an issue with them at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I still quite like George Osborne and I’ll still be bowing my head past 90 degrees in front of the Cenotaph, but their new ‘living wage’ is really giving me a headache.
As a student who works alongside my degree, I like to think of myself as fairly productive; perhaps vainly so. According to Matt Hancock though, I’m quite simply not. At least, not compared to people approximately five years older than me. Apparently, the accumulation of wisdom and clarity that one attains in the years leading up to 25 and beyond is a rite of passage and insurmountable without the slow procession of time.
To give this all some context, the new living wage that the Conservatives are proposing will not be made available to under 25s. The reason for this, according to Hancock, is that we aren’t as productive as the rest of the working population. Strange that; Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire at the age of 23. That’s political activism for you.
Across the board, it’s a kaleidoscope of ambition. Those who attend university are realising that their 2:1 in English from Sheffield will not guarantee them a job, whilst others are bravely starting their own business ventures in the wake of trailblazers like Zuckerberg and Spiegel. This all sounds like a pretty mediocre script for a rallying march against institutionalised aristocracy, but it’s really not. I actually believe the Conservatives are leading us down the right path – that’s a pretty good stick to beat me with, isn’t it? According to recent research, the number of under 35s starting businesses has risen by more than 70% since 2006; in the wake of an all-too-recent recession, that’s a promising sign.
How do you measure productivity? Naturally it’s challenging to become the manager of a firm at a young age, particularly in light of the fact that certain unpaid internships are rated as highly as paid positions were ten years ago. The game is changing, but employers trust young people to do a job and do it well. Even within the confines of journalism, it is apparent; the current editor of the Independent, Amol Rajan, is 32.
It’s too subjective to say that all these people are isolated incidents – under 25s are leaving education systems well drilled and ready to attack the big, bad working world. To state something as naïve and out-of-touch as Mr Hancock did is both insulting and fundamentally inaccurate. It won’t sway my political allegiances because, in a spirit that Mr Hancock failed to respect, I won’t judge a whole batch on one bad egg – or in this case, one ill-judged comment.
It’s tough to be a young person in a world of unpaid internships, zero-hour contracts and 50p pints, but it’d be a whole lot easier if government criticism didn’t add itself to the list of woes.
First published in the Huffington Post.