Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 1 December 2011


It is reported that in 1901 the explorer Ernest Shackleton placed an advertisement in the Times which read as follows: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success."

The next morning the queue of the many young men waiting to take part allegedly snaked around the corner of the street.

Young people need to be stretched if they are to achieve their potential. So the news that we now have well over one million young people in this country who are not in employment, training or education is alarming, for them and for our society. Whatever they are doing all day, it is unlikely to be setting them up for a life of responsibility and service.

This number has been growing steadily since 2004 and is becoming a major political issue. It is now comprised of two very distinct groups. The first group is of graduates who have come out of university in the past 4 years and found it hard to get the kind of job they had anticipated. This is in part a reflection of too many young people going to university and also the sharp drop in graduate vacancies since the credit crunch in 2008. This is not the fault of the graduates themselves.

Sadly this group is likely to grow until we come out of the tough economic tunnel through which we have no choice but to pass, hopefully a short term blip. The economy will eventually power away again and fewer young people should be lured to university to do esoteric degrees as a result of increasing student fees.

The second group is more disturbing. These are the kids who crash out of school, often from chaotic backgrounds, with very few qualifications and whose attitude to work makes them virtually unemployable. This hard to reach group seems to be growing by the year, allowing more enthusiastic Poles to take the jobs they should be getting.

We can only crack this growing problem using both carrot and stick. The welfare system is being reshaped so that a life on benefits for healthy people is neither desirable nor possible. This will take time to deliver results. 

But young people who have got stuck also need dignity, hope and challenge. Is there a young person you know in this camp who you could inspire? Shackleton where are you? 

posted by Gary @ 00:00