I recently watched an intriguing video from a gentleman called Malcolm Sutherland on YouTube a few days ago. Although at first he appeared to be rather irate (with good reason though) he eloquently expressed the concerns of a generation awkwardly place between “X” and “Y”. Too young to fully enjoy the economic boom on the 1990s and certainly too old and slightly out of touch to be classed as a “millennial”. We are, as Tyler Durden said in Fight Club; the “forgotten children of history”.
Probably born sometime in the early to mid 80’s we don’t know where we’re meant to belong. Those older than us graduated in the early 90’s, prospered under New Labour and now have enough of a steady income and financial collateral to look fairly secure. Those younger than us exude an easy swaggering confidence, perhaps born of youth and naivety and are more comfortable with new and emerging technology and are just entering the work place or proceeding through university.
We were promised and repeatedly told by those in positions of authority and power that we would be given a graduate position and would receive a salary commensurate with this. Indeed I was informed that most graduate positions were non specific to your degree. As long as you had that magic piece of parchment your chances in life would increase. Keep your head down, work hard and you will be rewarded was the mantra that I was asked to live my life by. Do this through school, university and the workplace.
This is the path I took and the one I and countless like me are still walking, but to no particular destination.
Sadly, the worst economic crisis to hit the global economy struck us as we were just taking our first tentative steps into the “adult” world and this has left a long and indelible mark on us through loss of earnings, staying in the parental home for longer and a myriad of other socio-economic indicators.
It is not only the spectre of unemployment that haunts us but her slightly more corporeal sister, underemployment as well. Underemployment is a funny phenomena and it can be recognised by a phrase that I’m sure many of you will be tired of hearing. “Oh well, at least you’re in a job”. Like all well worn phrases this is partly true, it is indeed far better than being unemployed. A single, childless, person over 25 can expect to get £75 a week. Even on minimum wage your odds are better.
I have never been naive on what life would be like. I did not feel that I was owed a living or a good wage. I have always been realistic about what I can and cannot do, been taught to take individual responsibility for my own actions and make considered judgements based on the evidence in my present circumstances.
But surely it cant be too unrealistic to expect a full time, moderately secure job with a reasonable wage? Glance at any job website like s1jobs.com or totaljobs.com to see the proliferation of temporary, part time positions or adverts to cover maternity leave. Full time, permanent positions are now a thing of the past.
There are good jobs out there but the specific criteria to meet them are onerous at best and frankly ludicrous at worst. Indeed, one job for a large national food retailer dismissed my application for Assistant Manager on the grounds that I hadn’t managed 8 people in my last job. Clearly with a team of six or seven people I would been too inexperienced and utterly incapable of performing any tasks that I was given.
Again, I’m not suffering from crippling naivety. Government and businesses have economic circumstances to consider. I appreciate the “bottom line” is relevant and that they either must turn a profit or strive for efficiencies in other areas. Also, lets not pretend, there is a need for menial jobs in a capitalist society in all sectors of employment from heavy industry to the third sector.
Even though employment has recently returned to levels last seen in 2008 there are still a significant number of underemployed individuals with talent, drive and experience who are qualified, able and are going to waste as you read this.