Roger Roberts: We can only tackled youth unemployment by working together

Today Lord Roger Roberts has a question in the Lords Chamber on tackling long-term youth unemployment. The problem, he writes here, is one which can only be solved with an all-party consensus

Lord Roberts of Llandudno
Lord Roberts of Llandudno

It is a terrible indictment of our society that 20% of our young people are officially unemployed. The situation is not new. It has been this way for years, under successive governments.

The 20% statistic itself looks rather dry in print, but lying behind it are real people, youngsters in every part of the country with dreams and aspirations. Without work and career opportunities those dreams are unfulfilled and the hopes of those young people are lost.

How can the young unemployed feel that they have a proper stake in our society without the dignity of a job and prospects for the future? How can they hope to have their own home? Or start a family? What sort of lives will they lead?

Looking after our children and wanting the best for them is one of our most basic instincts. As the economy has become more global many of our jobs have moved overseas to the emerging economies. This pressure on employment is only going to get worse, so we need to ensure that our young people receive the best possible training opportunities, apprenticeships and careers guidance they can. We need to have an approach which joins up all of these elements, supporting our children as they move through the different stages that will take them into adult life.

To be successful this will have to involve the politicians who set the framework, the teachers in our schools, colleges and universities, careers advisers and job centre staff, employers and trade unions. All have their part to play to make a system that works for our youngsters and provides British businesses with the skilled people they need to help us pay our way in the world.

The challenge we face is real and serious. We need to put aside our differences and work together to give our young people the best possible start in life. We need to equip them for a world which is going to become even more competitive. That is why I have tabled a question in the House of Lords to ask the government what steps they will take to create an all-party consensus to tackle this terrible problem of long-term youth unemployment.

Over the years all parties have, very genuinely, attempted to resolve the problem of youth unemployment. When Labour left government in 2010 the percentage out of work was touching 20%. It remains more or less at the same level. There is a core of long-term unemployment that no single party by itself seems able to succeed in tackling. Is it not time to take this issue out of the realm of confrontational politics?  Positively, working together we might just succeed in removing the misery of unemployment from one million youngsters.


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.


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