It’s funny how one conversation with a stranger can completely change your views on things. I bet this young person doesn’t even remember talking to me. I met him doing some youth outreach work. He’d stolen some trainers and I was trying to figure out why we were seeing a spike in crime. I remember saying to him, convinced I was right:
“Why would you risk a criminal record just to get a pair of shoes? If that’s what you want, why not work hard at school and get a decent job? Then you could get a new pair every month!” He barely looked up before he gave his answer: “My brother worked really hard at school and went to uni – he’s not got a job, just a bunch of debt. So why should I?”
To be honest, I was stumped. He had a point. Although there’s no excuse for criminal behaviour, too often young people feel that looking for work in the usual way won’t get them anywhere.
The old deal that said if you work hard, you will get a decent job and live in security. Too often this doesn’t apply to this generation. Even if you’re talented and hardworking, you’re lucky to get a job on poverty pay with a zero hour’s contract.
This kind of wasted talent and lack of opportunity is one of the key reasons I’m standing for election in Southampton. We in the Labour Party believe that if you work hard and put the effort in, it will pay off and you will get a decent job. It’s one of the reasons we offer a jobs guarantee for young people who have been out of work for a year.
Of course it will take more than politicians to turn this around. If you’ve got some free time, why not think about volunteering to help the excellent work of No Limits? If you’re a business leader think about what extra work experience and apprenticeships you can offer.
Although right now I’m just a candidate, I’m trying to do my bit by offering work experience to young people interested in politics, so get in touch if you’re interested!
Together we can stop young people feeling like the young man I met, and give them faith that their hard work will pay off.
Guest Blogger Rowenna Davis Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Southampton Itchen
Rowenna can be contacted at email@example.com