Friday, 3 September 2010

Fallout From Fruity Thursday

My nephew didn't get into university. He had enough points, but not in the right grades. He went through clearing - Royal Holloway and Essex - but didn't hear anything after three days and apparently, just as in the job market, that's them passing on you.

I'm upset. I was looking forward to telling everyone where he was going and then boring them rigid for the next three years by little news items about his progress and all the cool stuff he was doing. I'm still in a little bit of denial about it - like one of the universities he applied to will call up and say that he can come anyway. Which is not going to happen. There was a baby boom eighteen years ago and more young people applied this year than at any time in history. Just when the government cut back on funding for places.

So in one morning a couple of weeks ago he went from being a young man of promise to the lowest form of statistical life: a NEET - Not in Employment, Education or Training. Now he has to find a job. As he would in three years' time if he had graduated, but at least he would be competing with graduates as an equal. Now he has to find whatever jobs there are for people without degrees. And not just jobs: careers. I'm told that the magic number now is £10 / hour, or £17,860 a year (38 hours a week, 47 weeks a year). How does anyone live an independent life on that? Rent a flat, save for a house, attract and retain a partner and enjoy a hobby, entertainment that isn't TV and some culture? That would be a "they can't". I don't understand careers outside of head office staff and management roles. I know how much I pay tradesmen, but I don't see self-employment as my nephew's thing.

So suddenly life is going to be harder and irritating for all concerned. He's going to have to change his act at home and my sister and mother are going to have to accept he's not going anywhere for at least another year. No. I don't do having unemployed people in my house on a full-time basis.

Economically, coming out of education is a nasty moment. One day you're a respectable student studying hard and living off a loan and whatever subs your family can give you, plus maybe whatever work you can pick up, and then suddenly the day after the end of the final year, unless you have a job to go to... you're an unemployed bum. Maybe for new graduates and their parents it isn't the stigma it used to be, as being made redundant isn't the stigma it was in the 1980's. An economy which cannot provide appropriate starter work for its young people is not thriving - and I don't care how many cool toys the employed can afford.

But he still has to get a job.

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