Saturday, 15 October 2011

Youth unemployment

I have had the kind of fortnight that makes me fantasise very seriously about quitting my job in dramatic high fashion. It veers between telling arsey clients exactly where they can stick their increasingly high pitched demands for immediate attention or alternatively just throwing a shoe at my boss and flouncing out of the door. How exactly I will flounce with only one shoe on I'm not sure, but it's important not to over-analyse such fantasies.

Only once in my life have I quit a job without another one lined up. I was, for all of a day, working in a cleaning gang for a Pontins contract. The gangmaster was a twat is a suit who was there for all of three minutes before 'leaving us to it'. Never trust a bloke in a suit running a cleaning company,in my fairly considerable cleaning experience. We spent all day cleaning out room after room after room, with no lunch break and then we ended up working an hour longer as some of the other gangs didn't do their rooms fully. The supervisor at Pontins was the most awful person I've ever had the displeasure of working with, and as one of the few women in the gang to speak English she took out a lot of her anger at me. I finished the shift, went home, burst into tears and didn't go back. I wasn't paid for the extra two hours.

The point of all this is that I managed to get another job reasonable swiftly, this time as a carer in a nursing home, which I have relatively good memories of and still pop in occasionally to see the surviving residents. I had enough money to see me through the summer and set me up for another year in uni.

I don't think I could manage that again. I am hyper-aware of my financial responsibilities, mostly because I pay the rent and also I have a wedding looming, and that shit is expensive. My fear of poverty is higher than my loathing of the job, and poverty and unemployment is a very real fear right now.

Youth unemployment is, roughly speaking, when someone between 16-24 isn't in employment, education or training. This is charmingly referred to as being a NEET. I have never been a NEET, I say with some quiet pride, but my sister has. In less than a year I am no longer a youth in employment terms, but I still worry about the future.

Youth unemployment in Britain has now topped one million, and if you think this isn't a graduate issue then you have your head in the sand. It is equally an issue for school-leavers and college-leavers, but crucially it means a generation is being screwed. It's being screwed by short-sighted policies, by increasing unemployment across generations, by the economy. It means I worry about spiralling into the situation in Spain. I look at the protests across the Middle East, where a major factor for social change and unrest is – you guessed it – youth unemployment.

I worry that I am stuck in this job, which whilst paying tolerably well has no chances for progression or training. Worse, though, is the worry that if I quit it I will have no chances for, well, anything, and will eventually just take a worse job in order to fill up the days. I don't exactly have what you might consider a strong work ethic, but I like to have a structure to my day, and to feel that I'm doing something at least tolerably useful.

So, for now, fear of the unknown will keep the image of throwing a shoe at my boss a fantasy.

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