Press release: Young people have most to lose in the EU

Doug NIcholls, former General Secretary of the Community and Youth Workers’ Union and associated with youth policy initiatives since the 1970s, and former Executive Member of the Wales Youth Agency and National Youth Agency, author of “For Youth Work, For Youth Workers” Policy Press warns that young people, the next generation have most to lose if we stay in the EU.

Mr Nicholls said:

“Mass youth unemployment began in Britain in the mid 1970s when we joined the European Union and its key demand of allowing capital to fly free of its country of origin started. Well paid manufacturing, technical and scientific jobs disappeared. We deindustrialised as a nation and lost political power.

“Having lived with mass youth unemployment it has almost become as natural as the weather. It is deeply unnatural and takes away pride and hope and skill and causes mental illness and anguish early in life. Youth suicide rates are on the rise right across the EU.

“On top of permanent youth unemployment, which stands at around 600,000 today in Britain, with high percentages in black and ethnic minority communities, we saw the removal of skilled apprenticeships, the creation of an unaffordable housing market, the break-up of social housing, the development of zero hours contracts and precarious work.

“Add to this an over competitive education system with test after test and the closure of vital youth support services, and the introduction of student loans instead of grants and it was little surprise that this was the first generation of young people to have fewer opportunities than their parents’ generation.

“This will only get worse if we remain in the EU which is the world’s low growth area, hardly surprising when at its heart are 23 million unemployed people. In some EU countries there is 50% youth unemployment. This sucks life out of the economy and hope out of a generation.
Out of the EU we would be able to prioritise, as our predecessors did, building a society without unemployment and with secure, skilled, well paid jobs. We would be able to tackle the unaffordable housing market and enable young people to start earlier on the ladder and gain their independence.

“Above all we would be able to engage young people through votes at sixteen and civic engagement in social structures and politics that they would influence and determine. People would start getting elected again to positions of office unlike all the unaccountable financiers who run the banks and corporations that run the EU.

“Young people must have a central vested interest in how society is run and should be central to decision making and power not marginal from it and victims of brutal decisions by those who represent only the super-rich 0.1%. Young or old: low growth, low productivity and mass unemployment is a bleak future. We need to leave the EU on June 23rd.”