From education to employment

Osborne’s Autumn Statement does little for Further Education

With the advent of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement yesterday comes yet more cuts to public benefits, and little difference to education. Income support, housing benefit, job seeker’s allowance and child benefit all received the chop, meaning the life of any young job seeker just got a lot harder.

While education and experience seems to be the phrase of the moment for the masses of unemployed young people, the path to gaining such expertise has become fraught with challenges. With less financial help for young people and even less funding for education, unemployment figures for 16-25 year olds could rise once more.

It appears that George Osborne’s main aim in his plan to regulate the economy for at least the next few years with his extended budget plan was not to ruffle any feathers.

Despite the allocation of £270 million for capital investment in FE colleges, sweeping cuts to the education sector have ensured this small gesture goes almost unnoticed.

In reaction to the capital investment, Bob Vesey, president of AMiE, the leadership section of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “We are pleased Further Education is being allocated £270 million forcapital investment, but set against the large number of cancelled building projects, this is a relatively small sum and will not begin to address the historic under-investment in the sector.”

Still, one of the hardest hit groups of the recession is the young unemployed without a place in full time education, the funding to continue education or the experience to enter full-time employment. With further funding cuts putting full-time employees out of work with the possibility of more stringent reductions to potential benefits, young people could find it even harder to enter the work place and gain that crucial footing on the employment ladder.

Osborne made no reference to how the financial plans could support an entire generation struggling to keep their heads above water, let alone start a career, which many have spent time and money preparing for.

Vesey said: “There is a glaring omission of any plan to reduce unemployment among 16-to 19-year-olds.

“Or is the Chancellor expecting the market to sort out jobs for them, just as it’s generated sufficient economic growth to counter the effects of long-term unemployment among 16- to-25-year-olds!”

There was little relevant opposition from Labour either, despite repeated complaints that the Coalition Government is squeezing the finances of the poorest, and increasing austerity measures for what could be the UK’s third gloomy year of recession. Labour MPs mumbled tired arguments about Conservative’s favouring the rich, but none that could not be countered with references to the deficit left by their Party in the first place.

The Autumn Statement seems to leave all parties involved in a bit of a stalemate. Osborne’s scattered tit bits for a broad spectrum of causes, from fuel duty to nuclear power, have given him little to say to a lot of people while the opposition offers nothing to counter his decisions. Yet again, the Coalition Government, or any party for that matter, is lacking in any real financial policy to help those desperately searching for a starting place in this challenging economy.

Daisy Atkinson

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