Generation Skype – Undervalued, undermined and treated with contempt:
The budget decision to cut payments for young job seekers is both disappointing and damaging.
Disappointing in that it discriminates against those least responsible for the economic crisis. Damaging in that it pushes our most energetic and enthusiastic a step “closer to the exit gates” (as Deputy Donnelly puts it) where their contribution, at least for a few years, is withheld from the country that educated them in the first place.
If the Government are to be believed their ‘Action Plan for Jobs’ is working. Recent figures do show that unemployment is down. What’s more Richard Bruton, the Jobs Minister, has launched various schemes to encourage start up employers get off the ground (the Seed and Venture Capital scheme) and existing employers grow their businesses (Microenterprise Loan Fund scheme) at a time where bank lending is near impossible to come by.
What then have those of us in our 20’s and 30’s to worry about? Such initiatives should generate jobs and therefore, in theory, go hand in hand with reductions in unemployment benefit. That makes sense right? In theory perhaps it does.
That’s the message for young people coming from Fine Gael and Labour – ‘the jobs are there, so we’re cutting your welfare benefits’. Government deputies claim their masters are creating the conditions necessary for job creation. Sadly the facts suggest otherwise. Take the Seed Venture Capital scheme. As of last week not one business start up has secured funding under this scheme. This is the same project the Government promised would create thousands of jobs over a period of five years. That was in May. Seven months later we’re still waiting for the first investor deal.
No investor means no funding, no funding means no start-up, no start-up means no jobs.
Elsewhere, in tourism and agri-food for instance, jobs are being created. However this is not happening on the scale suggested by Fine Gael when they point to the falling numbers on the live register. What the Government is less keen on highlighting is the numbers of young people packing their bags bound for ports and passenger terminals. According to yesterday’s Irish Independent more people emigrated in the last year than at the beginning of the economic crisis. The Behaviours & Attitudes report also shows that many of those considering emigration are hard working qualified people in the health and IT sectors many of whom quite simply can’t afford to live here.
The statistics show that we do not need to be “incentivised” to work in the way that Enda Kenny said in the Dail when responding to questions on his decision to severely cut job seekers payments. We all need jobs. The vast majority want jobs. The trouble is that, for many, the jobs are not there.
This Government only disappoints in resorting to the same spin of previous governments – in this case exploiting the emigration valve to mask it’s incompetence at enterprise and job creation. It also blatantly disrespects people’s intelligence in assuming we haven’t learned anything from the Crisis.
For younger people disappointment and disrespect is only the start of it. The difficulties we encounter as outsiders and the experience deficits we struggle to overcome in securing that crucial first job or a place to call home are now doubled with the pain of realising that the same Government that fails at ‘creating the conditions’ to allow us get work is now slashing the meagre payments many need to find that work ourselves.
Meanwhile the glossy ‘Action Plan for Jobs’ is held up high to the cameras while Generation-Skype quietly make their way through the exit gates.