As a recent graduate and so called young person, I’m am tired of hearing that myself and my peers being labelled as “useless”. There are indeed some who seem particularly incapable of dealing with real life and the job hunting involved therein, but unfortunately that is true of all generations. The crux of the matter, as many astute people have already pointed out, is this: decent job opportunities are scarce, training opportunities are practically non-existent and we currently have a government who frequently uses blame on a third party as a solution to the problems they can’t be bothered to truly consider or care about. I can, from experience, say that “young people” (particularly those born late 1980s to late 1990s) have been pestered and flattered into going to university as the true solution for success. Our egos are fanned throughout however long we study and full-time education, as well as the process of maturing into a seemingly well-adjusted adult, can be so demanding that most don’t even consider taking a job. We were so often told that the degree will make it easy to sail into a decent job. No wonder it’s so difficult when we leave that bubble.
What many people who label us as useless don’t seem to understand is that we don’t come up with these notions on our own. Our parents, guardians and generally society as a whole can give us a lasting impression of who we are and where we fit in, whether we like it or not. So after all that work, which we were convinced would be the salvation for us all, we are told that we are useless. We are told that our education is worthless, because we should have predicted that we needed work experience or that we are tainted as being “overqualified”. We are told we are not even worth stable jobs with minimum wage with all of the unpaid internships that we are being bombarded with. The sad thing that I have come to realise is that regardless of being a hardworking and capable person, who does have work experience AND a degree (a set of qualities that I do share with countless numbers of people in my age group) it is apparently not good enough. The best opportunities I have seen have arisen for most people because of their connections, especially through their parents. If am useless, it is only due to my inability to have picked more influential parents before being conceived and my resistance to taking on unpaid placements because I simply cannot afford to do so. If that’s what society wants from so-called “young people”, then I’d prefer that they would stop acting so coy and own up to the fact that they simply wish to exploit us. After being put through higher education, it is soul destroying to then be told that the best you can get is stacking shelves in a supermarket. Most of us actually do take these opportunities anyway, but our self-esteem inevitably takes a hit.
This incessant inter-generational bullying (perhaps mostly created by the press) only serves to distract the true source of today’s economic problems, and blame young people for circumstances that began long before they were able to have a say in the matter. Continuing on this path of blame only serves to prolong it, since it is difficult remain confident when the public consciousness apparently deems us as incapable.
[Note: For those who are unaware, this is blog post based on recent comments made by Tory minister Nick Hurd.]