Panicking like it’s 1989…

The latest statistics on youth unemployment suggest that not only is youth unemployment as bad as it was in the 80’s, but graduates are having more trouble getting work than teenagers fighting to get a job straight from school – one in four graduates is unemployed compared with one in five of those who left school after A levels.And if you look at yesterday’s Office of National Statistics figures baldly there is little to choose between leaving school at sixteen (unemployment rate 26%) and going off to get a degree (graduate unemployment rate £25%.

“Told you so” say the cynics – what’s the point in sending all these kids to university – you’re just four years older and deeper in debt (ooh sorry – gone a bit Frankie Laine there..)

But look a little deeper at the numbers and you’ll see it’s not quite that bleak – yes plenty of graduates are struggling away at bar jobs and still living at home – I know plenty of them, but many of those are ambitious patient creative types with their eye on the main prize – look at lovely Ed Sheeran who swept the boards at the Brits this week – he didn’t get where he is today by playing it safe – his CV up until a year or two ago would probably have him labelled as a NEET, with “played a gig to five people” under the “Employment history” section. But those years of technical unemployment combined with talent, dedication and sheer will enabled him to carve his musical career day by day.

But for most of us there  is a world of difference between being an unemployed graduate and being an unemployed teenager and to try to scare teenagers away from college by bandying around statistics that implies they are equally equipped for the future is cruel, snobbish and deceitful. Delve a little deeper into the statistics and it’s clear that most graduates get themselves sorted out with in two or three years – look at the comparisons again at age 24 and they look much healthier.. Only 5% of graduates are still unemployed by the age of 24, compared with 13% of 24 year olds who left school at 16.

And check out the comparative earning powers of a graduate versus a school leaver – a graduate can look forward to earning £1.6M over the course of his or her career but a school leaver will make about £780,000- less than half. Somehow I think that taking a risk of spending three years mooching round the job centre or three years in a new city, living with like-minded mates your own age while you spend your days being tempted into using your brain by some of the best minds in the business might have the edge – don’t you?
Let me know what you think