Fran’s got it right

Written By: - Date published: 11:52 am, November 18th, 2009 - 6 comments
Categories: employment - Tags:

For the first time ever I wholeheartedly agree with Fran O’Sullivan’s column. In today’s Herald she writes about the government’s inaction over youth unemployment and what it will mean in terms of a lost generation.

The percentage of young people who can’t find jobs snowballed after the global economic crisis hit New Zealand.

But (so far) the Government has only budgeted enough funds to provide “opportunities” for 16,900.

This is not going to make a large dent when 62,700 young Kiwis between 15 and 24 are already out of work. The number is set to swell when more school leavers and tertiary graduates hit the job markets this summer.

New Zealand has been down this track before in the early 1990s.

It was not a pretty sight. Young men who couldn’t find work lost hope. There was an explosion of youth suicide. Many ultimately left for new opportunities offshore.

I’d add to that the fact that meaningful work also provides a connection to civil society. Longterm unemployment can damage people’s ability to function as adults and to partake in democracy and their communities in the market economy we’re currently stuck with.

Like Fran I watched this happen in the 90’s and I think we are still paying the price in terms of skills shortages, low home-ownership and a generation that carries an unhealthy cynicism that, while understandable, has led to a disengagement with civil society that can only be bad for democracy.

I never thought I say this but I recommend reading Fran’s piece and having a real hard think about what she’s saying.

6 comments on “Fran’s got it right”

  1. tc 1

    Add this lost generation to the one Muldoon drove offshore that now have families and succsesful lives in OZ and beyond as well as the Bolger/Shipley’s 90’s era and you have consistent outcomes from a visionless big business dogma driven ideology that national represent….regardless of circumstances or any quant election promises.
    Same old same old but nice to see granny herald growing a belated sense of some sort of balance…….as it watches the horses it helped out into the paddock smash fences and eat the carefully nutured garden to bits in a fraction of the time it took to create it.

  2. RedLogix 2

    This ‘lost’ generation describes one group of our current tenants to a letter. They aren’t bad kids, but between them they can tick off a list of just about every known social dysfunction. To be honest, as a middle class liberal sort of person, I feel a little uncomfortable around them because their life experience is so limited, almost brutal… I have trouble connecting with them. Call me chardonay socialist if you like.

    The really sad thing is that on the occasion we can organise some work for them to do, like clearing a section or painting a roof, they are almost pathetically keen. Anything to do something useful.

    The single biggest opportunity for these guys to turn their lives around is to get a girl pregnant, and become a decent father. It gets their priorities focussed onto a purpose. Unemployment, or it’s close cousin minimum wage income, destroys their ability to form stable families. If they miss this chance in their 20’s, they tend to miss the bus altogether, spending their lives marginalised and drifting.

  3. Craig Glen Eden 3

    Its all a bit late Fran you helped this lot get in with your anti Helen bullshit and RaRa John Key. This lot showed no new policy during the election campaign from what they served up in the eighties the only difference was the we will be Labour Lite( swallowing dead rats English called it).
    Even after English was outed the journos still ran their bullshit over and over again with no analysis( National standards in education and 400 hundred more nurses sprinkled on top of the shit cake).

    Any journalist worth anything should have seen this coming so you are either thick or ignorant Fran. Enjoy your shit cake Fran, you have two more years of chewing .

    Did she really think electing Key would be the answer? Oh my god!

  4. Rex Widerstrom 4

    I think we are still paying the price in terms of skills shortages, low home-ownership and a generation that carries an unhealthy cynicism that, while understandable, has led to a disengagement with civil society that can only be bad for democracy.

    Me too. But what irritates me about the parties of the left (because those on the right are even less likely to do it) is their willingness to tackle — with varying degrees of success — the practical effects of this situation while ignoring the psychological.

    There’s initiatives to tackle youth unemployment, first home ownership etc etc. But what has ever been done — in a concerted, serious way at central government level — to encourage political engagement by this generation?

    And I don’t mean recruiting for “the cause”. The Greens seem particularly good at engaging young people on green issues and Labour’s youth wing seems to do a reasonable job of attracting and holding those whose leanings are already socialist.

    But what of the majority of the younger generation, those with no strongly formed political views and indeed a feeling of ennui and even cynicism toward the democratic process? The ones who need to be sought out, encouraged, cajoled and then empowered?

    Even the occasional local authority makes an effort with ongoing “Youth Councils” or similar, though that inevitably tends to attract those who see themselves as the Young Nats or Young Labourites of the future. Central government does nothing beyond the brief “Youth Parliaments” — and I suspect that if it ever did, any effort would be window dressing akin to much of what passes for consultation with other groups.

    In short, you’re dead right IB. Now I’d like to hear what those who already have the power propose to do about sharing it, and in the process re-enfranchising those for whom politics has meant nothing but loss — of work, of income, of diginity, of hope.

  5. Galeandra 5

    RW looks for answers to “encourage political engagement by this generation” but this seems to miss the fact that the ennui and boredom run strongly beneath the entirety of teenage lives and there is a huge disconnect from values such as self-discipline, personal responsibility, selflessness, the sense of obligation and so on. It seems to me, from my interactions with younger generations, that they are particularly self absorbed, and free to choose their own directions in life to an extreme extent.

    Ask yourselves how often you have seen bereaved parents handwringing on national news in the aftermath of some horriffic accident that was entirely avoidable had the youngsters been off the streets/out of the cars/off the booze/drugs/ DOING AS THEY HAD BEEN TOLD etc etc.

    I teach, as you will guess, and my colleagues’ daily experience is of being spoken to in off-handed, over-familiar or even scornful ways. Instructions are not followed, rules are to be broken, parents are treated disrespectfully, assignments left undone, deadlines missed..
    If all students were like this, we’d none of us put up with it. But some are like this most of the time, and most are some of the time. So you can imagine why youth unemployment has always been something ofan issue in NZ.

    Somehow we have to wake up as a community, raise our expectations as parents, neighbours, adults on the street, employers etc. Who shall we blame? Those who profit from selling cheap alcopops /modified car parts or cheap imports/ fashion junk / texting facilities /computer games…businesses that who employ school students to work 10-15-20 hours a week or parents who let their kids stay home when they should be at school?
    We have to look aggressively for solutions to drug and alcohol use/abuse; we have to develop a stronger sense of social obligation, and try to deal to the culture of mindless materialism and self gratification.

    The new NZ curriculum statement’s stress on self-management and so on is an acknowledgement of this growing failure in preparing our youth for adulthood.

    The stringencies of recession and unemployment will provide a lot of pain. Perhaps we can harness the pain as a motivator for real change. And take the time to make everyone else’s business our business. We need some real Nanny state.

  6. Maui 6

    Face it, Key was a successful apparatchik in the Merrill Lynch machine – one which had $118 billion in toxic securities when Bank of America strong-armed the US government into ponying up billions in taxpayer support as a reward for taking it over.

    He has never run a business, taken risks as an entrepreneur, or developed a vision of society beyond his accounting degree. Being a smarmy nice guy got him in with the business elite and won him the election, but his limitations are starting to become obvious even to die-hard National supporters.

    Given burgeoning youth unemployment and the likelihood of a prolonged slump
    the governments inaction on job creation is criminal.

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