Written evidence submitted by Mr Dylan Jones
I'm a final year student at Aston University and about to graduate at the worst possible time. This is expected to be the deepest recession in peacetime so I am quite concerned about the lack of opportunities available, and the economic impact to all those under 25, particularly those who are about to enter the labour market. The jobs are drying up due to something out of everyone's control, whether that be employers delaying their hiring or withdrawing their jobs altogether. I appreciate that employers would not want to hire given the circumstances as many are worried about keeping their own staff and staying afloat. Indeed, that is why the government introduced the schemes to help the employed and self-employed. I know that is all the right thing to do given it saves jobs, incomes, and the economy more broadly.
However, that leaves school leavers and graduates (soon to be unemployed) with little help. The universal credit increase, whilst welcome, does not solve everything. I, as with many others, don't want to spend months upon months unemployed. Also, I don't (if at all possible) want to feel forced into underemployment either. Therefore, I believe it is essential for some form of job creation/guarantee scheme to be in place for September/October (obviously dependent on safety).
I watched the Liaison Committee proceedings yesterday, and welcomed the questioning on an apprenticeship guarantee scheme. I'd urge you to continue to question the government on this issue since it provides openings for hundreds of thousands who are struggling to find opportunities currently. However, I don't believe this would go far enough. For instance, would this apprenticeship guarantee scheme be provided for those at the appropriate level? Also, I know the proposal was from level 2 to level 7, but would it mean a guarantee suitable to progress from one's level, or merely a guarantee of something? Obviously it would not be too beneficial for a degree level student to only find a place on a level 2 apprenticeship. Further, in order to cover all 16-25 year olds, it would be of benefit to include as many sectors as possible within the scheme. In addition, would this be at the apprenticeship minimum wage or the age related minimum wage? I understand the latter would prove more expensive, but may be necessary to ensure long term financial independence.
Those that initially entered the labour market around the time of the last crash had their employment prospects and wages affected for around a decade. As mentioned, this is the deepest recession in peacetime, so the impact would likely be much worse. This would be disastrous for hundreds of thousands of youngsters and their futures. After all, there is no future if many are stuck on universal credit not fulfilling their potential.
Given the lack of jobs, my only option appears to be a postgraduate degree. However, the price of some Master's courses are exceptionally high, with the £11,222 loan insufficient to cover the tuition fee, let alone living costs. This option is therefore financially risky. Gaining a part-time job to supplement this loan seems equally unlikely, making it infeasible for many. Thus, may I suggest either increasing the loan, or having a maintenance grant alongside the current provision.