On reading an article in yesterday’s Guardian Online with the catchy title “Rising employment, flourishing businesses: why Camden is different” I noted how the writer, Councillor Sarah Hayward, Camden’s cabinet member for community, regeneration and equalities, explains that the 25,000 businesses in the borough employ double the number of working age people that live there. Great news, but there are qualifications; she goes on to say that some areas of the borough have unemployment of nearly 20%, whilst youth unemployment for both school leavers and graduates is higher than the national and London based averages, which is currently a massive 18%.
Why should it be that in an area seemingly awash with jobs, about one in five young people still find themselves unemployed? And is Camden, a relatively affluent part of inner London, any different from the rest of the country – I think not!
The reason young people suffer is because our labour market discriminates against them, although according to our current legislation, it is illegal to so do. Young people have always been prejudged – when you think of a young person, what do you see? What images spring to mind; drug taking hoodies skulking around on street corners in gangs or an individual waiting and eager for society and employers to give them a chance? When I run workshops, I know which image prevails.
So today’s blog comes with a plea to managers, employers and the wider community too – be prepared to a take a risk. Whilst I acknowledge that older people may offer experience, knowledge and stability to their prospective employers, they may also be stuck in their ways, unimaginative and often likely come with bad working habits, workplace baggage and plenty of negative work experiences too.
It goes without saying that young people have less experience and knowledge and maybe a little fickle, still searching for the right path, but they carry with them a rawness and creativity that may have been ‘beaten’ out their elders; they are untrained, which means being ready and willing to learn and with brilliant imaginative ideas.
So whether you are in Camden, elsewhere in London, the UK or beyond, I appeal to you to give young people a chance – they deserve the best society and its many employers have to offer.