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Which side are you on?

Stephanie Flanders | 14:21 UK time, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

How old are you - and do you work in the private or public sector?

Answer me these two questions, and there's a fair bet I can tell you the kind of recession you've had.

Today's labour-market figures point up two great divides in the labour market experience of British workers in this recession. With few exceptions, this has been a private sector recession - and a recession of the young.

Job centre

For the sake of the public finances, and our broader society, the balance needs to be reversed in the recovery.

The public-private divide is much discussed, and is probably already starting to reverse itself. As I've written in the past, public sector employment has actually grown during the recession, and so have public sector wages.

That is not unwelcome - in fact, it's what we mean we say that the "automatic stabilisers" are sustaining demand. Broadly speaking, we "want" the public sector to be counter-cyclical. But it has opened up quite a divide.

Today's numbers are typical. In the private sector, average total pay (including bonuses) did not grow at all between the last quarter of 2008 and the last quarter of 2009. In the public sector, average total pay has risen by 3.7%.

As I warned yesterday, that last number is being distorted upwards by all those bankers who are now counted in the public sector. Excluding them, the average pay rise in the public sector was 2.6%.

But that still means the average pay packet in the public sector has risen slightly in real terms, in the past year. In the private sector - it's fallen by 2.2% (the average rate of inflation in 2009).

According to the latest CIPD/KPMG quarterly labour-market survey, both the employment and the wage story are already changing.

This found that public sector employers expected to cut workers in the next few months - whereas many private sector companies were looking to take people on.

And they predicted the next private sector pay award would be around 2%, compared to 0.9% in the public sector.

It's safe to predict that the recovery will be less kind to the public sector than the recession was.

But it's hard to make such a clear prediction regarding young people. Everyone is always saying "the recession has been hardest on the young". But the numbers tell the story better than rhetoric.

Relative to the scale of the downturn, the rise in inactivity in the past two years has not been as bad as in past recessions.

At 21.3%, the inactivity rate today is now lower than it was in the early 1980s. What has changed is the age distribution.

There are many students included in the inactivity numbers - they were largely responsible for this latest rise.

But of the 16-17-year-olds not in full-time education, nearly 41% were economically inactive during the last quarter of 2009. Back in 1992, the figure was less than 15%.

Because this can include people in part-time work or training, this is not quite the same as the so-called NEETs - not in employment, education or training. But it is deeply troubling nonetheless.

If you want an even clearer picture of how the labour market experience of young people has changed, consider the following astonishing fact.

In the second quarter of 1992, two-thirds - 65% - of 16-17-year-olds who were not in full-time education were reported to have a job. Now the figure is 35%.

The numbers are better for 18-24-year-olds who are not in full-time education - 69% of that group were classified as employed in the last three months of 2009. In the early 1990s it was around 71%.

But this group had a 77% employment rate in 2004. It's been falling more or less ever since. The new figures show employment among the under-25s falling by more than 80,000 during the three months to October.

Every labour-market expert I know is deeply concerned by these figures - especially those falling employment rates for 16-17-year-olds, which could have an impact on their social and economic prospects for decades to come.

I don't hear of many easy solutions - let alone cheap ones. But when it comes to this particular labour-market divide, let's hope that the next parliament will be a time for bright ideas as well as tough choices.


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  • Comment number 1.

    God help our children. I can't see any politicians coming to the rescue.

  • Comment number 2.

    To count bankers as public employee raises some questions as I do not believe that public employees can be given a bonus....but bankers I am sure are special...they certainly think so.
    1992 teenage unemployment rates do not reflect the types of economies. In 1992 a teenager could enter a trade or factory but in the world of work today comupter skill is required for the jobs that computers have not eliminated. Receptionist and clerical positions have mostly disappeared. As most labor intensive jobs have been moved to China there are not many opportunities for those without skills gained through continued education. The ugly side of captialism, chasing cheap labor for profit, has given those not educationally inclined, few options. It would be good to remember that it was the highly educated that made the decisions that brought the crisis down on our heads.
    For any nation, the balance between public and private sector employment determines the health of the economy and this is a bit out of balance.
    If the bankers had put the bonuses back into the economy in loans to businesses maybe things would be getting better but greed caused the problems and greed continues.

  • Comment number 3.

    Fascinating as ever Stephanie.

    Working in the public sector I wonder how long it will be before this post is flooded with comments from many suggesting that public sector workers (specifically civil servants) are paid just too much given the averages you talk about above?

  • Comment number 4.

    The public sector is proteced by the £200 Billion deficit.

    It will feel the pain when we try to reverse this.

    This government is borrowing and printing its way out this recession!

    May our children forgive us.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    When we speak about private sector pay rises we need to factor in the number of people who may have been on short time work and are now working increased hours again - any pay rises they have seen is relative to the previous quarter not the previous few years and should not be used as an argument against controlling public sector pay.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Stephanie,

    Much better article than the other Economics Editor, though not sure I agree with your comments on recovery...or maybe I do not see it happening for some time.

    I am 39 and self employed. My clients vary across public & private sector, in the UK, Europe & elsewhere. My private sector clients are all overseas bar 1 (who gets me virtually free of charge as I agree with their goals).

    My concern is very few private sector jobs are being created in high value engineering, construction, service industry jobs in the UK as companies do not have the money available or the credit availablity to take a punt on growth into overseas markets, when they do recruit they want experience & proven track record but often at a lower salary level to previous years - banks have failed to support here. I believe proper apprenticeships & a split back to good unis & good polytechs is required to support a strong industrial base (technical & knowledge based) - no need to get snobby here it's about the right skills & making learning interesting. I also think that we need to get rid of plenty of courses & give HR departments a chance of identifying the right candidate, currently a BA, BSc or BEng is virtually worthless - do a Masters and a placed year in industry to raise your profile.

    Many of our big exporters have risks to production rates Airbus, BAe, car companies with disappearance of scrappage scheme which could affect private sector employment in the short term future, though I'm sure all will bounce back (BAe perhaps need another conflict). I fear for the public sector this year but hope that front line staff in the NHS, teaching, army, fire, police, rescue & local services are protected as they are worth while.

    Overseas however similar nations are investing in their private sector & looking at ensuring that there is a legacy of skills & potential coming through the organisations with senior staff (age & position) mentoring new starters to ensure sustainability, the NEETS are going to be the lost generation & will result in the UK recruiting talent from overseas in years to come. How many mentors do we have out of work currently?

    Ironically I have just finished a holiday in Perth, WA visiting old friends - mining is booming & guess what, massive shortage of staff! Not just at the mines but handymen, gardeners, cooks the lot...only prob, team uk, is the dollar is only 1.75 to the pound compared to 2.75-3 a few years ago & housing could be about to go up again. Adv is Ashes this year & better interest rates for savers.

    Whoever is in control after May has a big job on, I'd recommend transparency as a first step so that we know where we are, then lets sort out farming & fishing so we can eat, then lets put skilled people in charge of training unskilled or unexperienced people - whilst admitting that as yeat they are not in dull time employment...then the Grid & industry!

  • Comment number 8.

    I don't think there is a solution to this one at present. Either leave them as they are, or put them through some sort of quango programme nonsense to keep them off the streets.

    The latter as we know is out of the question in terms of affordability.

    Something needs to be done with this hot potato before we start developing the next gen resigned to living off the welfare system as a career.

  • Comment number 9.

    These days, most 16 & 17 year olds are in some form of education or training. In 1992, most were not so occupied: a vast improvement on those very dark days. And there are vacancies in FE college courses.
    In 1992, millions of people aged over 45 were unemployed and early retired - mostly men. Many were long-term unemployed or, if they could persuade a Dr to give them a certificate, they were permanently on the sick. Benefits were meagre and it was a miserable existence for those people, with no prospect of anything but decline.
    Nowadays, this older age group is much less likely to be unemployed because the Age Discrimination culture introduced in the Tory years is no longer the acceptable face of employment policy. Another vast improvement.
    We have three millions more employed than in 1992 and our national income has risen by 40% in real terms since 1997. The fastest rate of growth in British history.
    That growth means we have sufficient reserves to weather this worldwide recession, and with much greater ease than was available for the much milder crisis of the early eighties.

  • Comment number 10.

    Stephanie, this is the blog you should have written earlier.

    If you work in the Private sector times have been very hard and if you still have a job it may be working fewer hours than you were with a commensurate drop in salary as there isn't enough wrk to go around. You may well have had no pay rise or even worse be expected to work the same for less in 2009.

    I, and many of my friends in the real world, are working more hours for no extra money, many of us are glad still to have a job.

    My girlfriend who is self employed is working 6 days a week just to keep her head above water. In the "Brown boom" she could earn much more working four days a week and pick and choose what work to take. Now she has to take what work she can get at what people are prepared to pay. She is probably working 40 to 50% more hours a week and getting paid probably a quater less.

    I imagine we are far from alone in this. This is why the private sector is so angry and why public sector strikes if they come after the election won't get a sympathetic hearing from the rest of us.

  • Comment number 11.


    If 500,000 public sector workers (is that a 5 % reduction in public sector workforce ?) lose their jobs over the next two years
    as we as a country over the next two years only exceed our spending by a little rather than a lot (say a £50 billion annual deficit shortfall [borrowing from the future] rather than this year's £200 billion)
    then how many private firms will have to cut back because they rely on public sector contracts
    and how many private sector workers will be losing their jobs ?

    I don't understand why you don't mention the multiplier effect on private industry that public sector cutbacks cause ?

  • Comment number 12.

    I don't know where you are getting your figures from. I am in higher Education and I got 0.5% rise last year and was grateful to receive this. Also jobs have already been lost in this area and the future looks very bleak indead. This misinformation makes me question other articles you have written. I would have expected a more informed article from you.

  • Comment number 13.

    The next election will, as always in living memory, be a contest between (Nu-)Labour and the Tories.

    A failed government versus a failed opposition(and what a chance the Tories had to shine if only they had the slightest talent).

    This time I am voting for the Clegg/Cable gang - the other two parties are just there to butter up the bankers.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yes, many publicly-funded organisations have continued to flourish and prosper during the recession, paying huge salaries to staff who don't merit them. Including the BBC. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 15.

    An addendum to my #7 - we also have to realign expectations. 30-40K for a first job to work on spreadsheets is too much for most roles, from making a company profitable & also offering new starters somewhere to progress to...many people may have watched too many American county & the likes. Also we don't need a new TV, I player every year (though microsoft seem to require you to get a new operating system & hardware) - save something for a rainy day or house deposit, or a pint of bitter & quality paper.

  • Comment number 16.

    Being both young (until 3 days ago, I was in that 18-24 group) and in the private-sector; Stephanie, you'd be wrong in my case, but I think I know why you would be right in most.

    I have no experience of the job market as a school leaver, as I went to uni, but there are clear problems that result in higher unemployment among graduates than before.

    1) There are now too many university graduates, and too few graduate jobs/schemes. Once you've got into £30k of student debt, taking a low-paid job is almost impossible - it's far better not to work.

    2) The current graduate cohort was told (if they had the same experience I did) throughout university that "don't worry, you've done a degree, you'll find a job after you graduate in days"; and the government has perpetuated this. It might actually have been true - for the people who were leaving when I was studying. It certainly isn't true now. That leads to:

    3) Of the group I remain in contact with from uni, there is a distinct division. 90% of those who worked while studying (part-time during terms), now have jobs, compared to 30% of those who just studied.

  • Comment number 17.

    I watched from the sidelines (school and university) during the boom years as the party went got on without me. I left university with a 2:1 (in economics of all bloody subjects). It turns out that a degree is pretty much worthless nowadays. But on the bright side at least I have debts of £16,000 to keep me company and bleed me dry.

    I feel SO betrayed, frustrated and helpless. I wish Britain was capable of riots because I would be at the head of the mob calling for Brown's head.

  • Comment number 18.

    The public sector may have come out better from the economic problems of the last 2 years, but they are about to see their own recession come into force.
    Shall we use the word 'cuts' here?
    I have heard from friends and family who work in different parts of the public sector that they are to expect redundancies in their departments this year. How many? Who knows. But cuts and redundancies there will be.
    Are we about to experience a 'Spring of discontent'. Just before an election as well!

  • Comment number 19.

    I am not arguing with the numbers on youth unemployment but bare numbers do not tell us anything like the real story. Just how many 16-17 year-olds not in full time education does 65% represent? Who are they, where are they and why (if they can't find a job) are they not in full time education?

    There will always be a percentage of youths that do not want to work or are already employed but not recognised as being so (eg carers {child and adult}, single parents, disabled/sick, etc. etc. So before we all run off shouting that it is criminal mismanagement by the government, let's put this figure into context.

    We also have to consider that there has been a shift in the employment demands of the over 60/65s. Competition from this group has never really been a factor before.

    Finally we have to look at how work is structured today and examen the implications of them for youth employment. I am thinking here of part time, short time and short contract working.

    If full employment is going to continue to be a major economic aim then we will have to look at what we actually mean by the terms employed and unemployed. We have to find new opportunities within which to create valuable work. It is clear that the private sector cannot and will not undertake this analysis so it will fall to the public sector.

  • Comment number 20.

    #5 No manners, borish, won't hold a door for a lady, litter bugs, use text speak, the list goes on...maybe job centres & mentoring can get through here, they can still have a youth culture but in many roles they will need to enter the establishment. Ms Flander's maybe you can kick off the mentoring (could be a bbc game show a la so you think you can dance - no snappy title as yet).

    Strangely I agree with Prince Charles when he made his comment about not everyone can be an actor / pop star & I think the Prince's Trust is outstanding.

  • Comment number 21.

    "But this group had a 77% employment rate in 2004. It's been falling more or less ever since."

    Hmm, wonder what happened in 2004? Oh yeah, I remember. Too bad I can't say what happened here because then I would then be branded a racist.

  • Comment number 22.

    Steph's analysis provides an interesting background to the bigger picture debate which is rapidly emerging/dawning.

    The basic premise is that the UK no longer has a suffient industry base to hire those new coming into the labour force (excluding any immigration).

    The other problem that some have alluded to is that a good percentage of the inactive workforce are basically unemployable.

    These problems have been with us for some time and a radical rethink is required. The number currently employed in the public sector just exacerbates the problem.

    We are reliant on too few paying taxes to fund the infrastructure we desire.

    Employment growth comes from firms expanding based on customer orders not on 'how much I can borrow from the bank' - a fact that has been missed time and again.

    In the past exporting has helped though I note this time despite sterling dropping some 25% since 2007 there has been no material improvement.

    A radical rethinking on tax and industrial policy is needed in combination with some radical changes.

    However I fear we will continue to muddle through (UK's good at muddling) but with severe detrimental effects for the next generation and beyond plus of course the current one.....

  • Comment number 23.


    You do read the comments, however you write:

    "That is not unwelcome - in fact, it's what we mean we say that the "automatic stabilisers" are sustaining demand. Broadly speaking, we "want" the public sector to be counter-cyclical. But it has opened up quite a divide."

    Growth of employment in the public sector has not been counter-cyclical, it has grown through both the boom and subsequent bust. If it had been counter-cyclical there would have been a reduction in public sector employment during the period 1997 to 2007.

  • Comment number 24.

    #7 >>... a split back to good unis & good polytechs is required to support a strong industrial base (technical & knowledge based)

    Oh no !! We can't have that !! We need to satisfy government targets of X number of graduates per year regardless of their subjects or pertinence to the private sector !! So, let's keep churning out unemployable graduates every year and call that an improvement on the previous education systems !!

  • Comment number 25. would be a little more comforting if the young currently economically inactive were highly educated, articulate and prepared for the challenge that the workplace presented when the recovery came. Sadly, a great number of these kids are unable to grasp the basics of reading, writing and maths so what hope do they have? Answer is none. Truly, we are reaping the harvest that is government education policy harking back to the Tories and the abolition of the Grammar schools and recently Tony Bliar with "education, education, education". Equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity is the epitaph of Ed Balls and his New Labour, which always ends up as the same thing, the lowest common denominator. Goodness help these kids in the face of global competition from an educated and ambitious China and India, they don't stand a chance. How so much money could be wasted is beyond comprehension. The recent documentary on "Why kids can't count" said it all- only 45% of maths teachers tested to 11 year old level (level 4 SAT)actually gained the mark expected of an 11 year old! What hope is there?

  • Comment number 26.

    @ 7, DaleyintoEurope and, @ 2, ghostofsichuan made some ace points.

    How can young people find work when we've let so much of our educational system (in the widest sense) go to the dogs?

    As if the system had not been damaged enough, now, to cut UKGov expenditure, schools and universities have to reduce costs. What about cutting the civil sevice, abandoning some military adventures that are doomed to failure, even asking some return from the banking and financial system given how much has been invested to save it?

    I visited a place in the West Midlands a few years ago. It was an old factory that had been broken into smaller units. Various types of artisan, all had lost their jobs due to closures, operated their very small manufacturing businesses. Amongst all this was a centre for teenagers, mainly with difficulties, who were given the opportunity to work with the skilled craftsmen, learn and contribute to their activities. It is possible to help people, it just takes a bit of effort and investment.

    As a taxpayer, where do you prefer your money to go?

  • Comment number 27.

    Well written, but a few things missing; companies can no longer ask for young people, nor can they advertise for recent graduates. Young people are not taught how to find jobs and when they get to interview, I have found that the lack of ability to speak the Queens English is a real problem. Probably the biggest problem with our young work force now. I for one will not take someone on who says things like: "You know, I just wanna get dat bling, yeah man for-real init."

  • Comment number 28.

    #17 >>I left university with a 2:1 (in economics of all bloody subjects).

    You could apply to the BBC !! I'm sure they could do with another economist !!

  • Comment number 29.

    #19 >>If full employment is going to continue to be a major economic aim then we will have to look at what we actually mean by the terms employed and unemployed.

    Absolutely !! Creating make-work and paying for that is the surest route to rack and ruin !! And, unless Britain is about to undergo mass psychosis, the number of psychology graduates massive out-number the demand for them !!

  • Comment number 30.


    Good that you have reviewed the unemployment data released today in more depth.

    My concern is with the long-term unemployed, which increased again in the last quarter up to 663,000. Unlike youth unemployment, which has seen a small retraction, long-term unemployment has continued to grow. It has remained under the policy radar so far.

    The rise in non-UK born people leaving the employment market in much larger proportion than UK-born people may be evidence of some latent discrimination in redundancy policies. This is highly sensitive politically, especially in the run up to the election, but could be a warning about future difficulties if not tackled. Anybody remember the Brixton and Liverpool riots and other urban unrest in the 1980s?

    I suspect that many of these will be older, more expensive and therefore more difficult to incorporate into education, training or employment, without a more structured approach by both DELNI and DWP.

    It is not all bad news, though. Reduction in numbers of redundancies?

  • Comment number 31.

    As an engineering student in the 1970's I spent a summer working in Germany. The apprentices, and students, were paid no more than pocket money, the company also refunded their travel costs. At the same time the unions were insisting on adult pay for apprentices here. The situation in Germany has not changed much; apprentices get no more than a token payment but there are plenty of them. Here, the old apprentice system almost completely disappeared, apart from a few exceptions like Rolls-Royce.

    Minimum wages are a good thing for adults but they have always been the best friend of youth unemployment. This collapse in youth employment exactly follows the introduction of the minimum wage.

  • Comment number 32.

    I've worked in the Public Sector all my life. I could have earned far more in the private sector (I'm a physicist), but have thought about the public good.

    It is really depressing that whenever economic problems occur, some (hard working I admit) people in the private sector area immediately criticise people like me.

    If you are made unemployed, who helps you?

    If you subject to illness, who helps you?

    If you become homeless, who helps you?

    At a time when the general public are struggling, they turn to the public servants to help them. Please don't bash the (low paid) public sector workers, or blame them for this recession. The (private sector) (b)ankers will in any case come out smiling whatever happens. Not like the poor nurse on £17000 a year trying to make ends meet.

    My public sector job is about to be slashed. This doesn't make the media, because science isn't interesting, unless it concerns the climate-change-deniers-idiots-jumponthebandwagontypes. The government announced the cuts abruptly (and immediately) to long planned and funded projects. In 3 months I'll probably be looking for a new job (not easy at the moment) or even on the dole.

    I am hoping there might be some helpful public sector workers who are still there to help me.

  • Comment number 33.

    Most people aren't awware of the employment market facing young people. Until recently I had a lodger who worked at Tesco distribution depot near Southampton. Except he didn't. He worked for an agency who would ring him between 4 and 6 each evening and tell hime which shift he had been allocated. This could cover 6-6 (i.e. less than 2 hrs notice), 8-4am, 10-6 or midnight-4am. Or it could mean no work at all. When shifts delined he changed agencies, technically changing employers, but, guess what? He still worked at the same job at Tesco. He went through three agencies while doing the same job, but as work declined he fell behind with his rent and had to move out. That is the reality facing our young people: they want to work, want to earn and pay their way, and are completely shafted by our "flexible labour market."

  • Comment number 34.

    Surely an increase in public sector employment or wages isn't an example of the automatic stabilizers. There's nothing 'automatic' about public sector employment increasing during a recession or public sector wages increasing much faster than those in the private sector. These are the results of conscious policy decisions by government.

    And surely comment 23 is right - that public sector employment and wages have increased regardless of the economic environment, so it seems highly doubtful even that these are the result of a consciously anti-cyclical policy. They just reflect plans the government set well before the extent of the current downturn was apparent, plans that reflected the government's desire to expand the public sector. As the article says, no doubt we will be lurching in the opposite direction in the coming years.

  • Comment number 35.

    Most People today would settle for a Full Time Job in employment where ever they can find any openings.

    The idea that this approach is still stuck in the preferments between Working either in the Public or Private Sectors "Only" arises for those already Rich to take advantage of this luxury, since they are the only ones that can afford to Cherry - Pick their Life - Styles to suit themselves.

    The finding from looking and being in any form of Full - Time Job is therefore, NOT about Public - V - Private Sector Employment, for it is ALL about the complete lack of ANY Full - Time Employment places and positions, since many of these once Full - Time Employment Jobs both once Public / Private HAVE completely vanished from the Jobs Market, with many more now set to follow on and also vanish forever, and these once employment places are not likely ever to return within any NEW Set -Up within a Generation.

  • Comment number 36.

    I would like to see all bankers and financial regulators required by law for the next, say, 3 years (equivalent to the possible core length of the current recession) to use their bonuses to sponsor job creation for the unemployed - including the young and the mature, those who are trained and untrained, and those with and without work experience. On its own, for instance, the couple of billion pounds of bonuses to be paid by Barclays to its staff could go quite a way towards such a sponsor programme! By such a programme such financial 'specialists' would be required to (1) look up from where they are positioned and see the rest of us (I think they are looking, but not seeing, because they are not paying back for their mistakes), (2) face up to the connection between their performance (on risky banking practices and regulation failures) and the financial wellbeing of the rest of us (a connection which they tend to emphasise only when it goes in their favour), and (3) adopt a more collegiate, inclusive and connected attitude about this country in which they choose to work (their threats to work elsewhere notwithstanding).
    Upon reflection, those MPs who are found to have benefited privately from public funds over the expenses scandal should also be brought into this sponsoring programme – to be clear, as sponsors, not as beneficiaries!
    It's time for us all to work together.

  • Comment number 37.

    The public sector never really had an advantage over the private sector, During the latest 'boom' they were consistently forced to have significantly lower pay rises than their private sector counterparts. For one year they have more and now they will have to suffer with lower rises once again. Both forms of employment have their advantages and disadvantages, but on actual pay I think the public sector almost always finishes behind the private sector.

  • Comment number 38.

    Mandy will doubtless reassure the young on unemployment with this cunning plan.

    All new graduates will be guaranteed a post-graduate degree course at MaccyDees university, working behind the counter on workplace experience. All the chavs will be given increased benefits so they can hang around MaccyDees, buy the burgers and throw up on 24-hour drink promotions.

    NuLabour - NuSolution!

  • Comment number 39.

    #24 ishkandar,

    You forget that Polytechnics were able to provide degrees awarded by CNAA. As for providing more technical/scientific graduates. What's the point? Our Private Sector can't provide jobs for the ones we already have.

  • Comment number 40.

    I own a very hi-tech engineering company - we design scientific instruments, and we always engage new people knowing that we will have to train them up and onwards - a company policy from when my father started 30 years ago.

    I am forced to say, the 16-25 year olds I have interviewed recently - , have completely failed to impress: No interests other than "socialising with friends" and "Watching football". No Hobbies. Magnificent Educational results: damn all knowledge about the subject of science or engineering.

    That goes for the graduate mechanical engineers too. We work particularly in the properties of liquid flow. One graduate, I quote, "with extensive experience of fluid mechanics" was unable to even define key terms in the field.

    Unemployed can mean unemployable. Our kids have been lied to for a long time about what they can do. Chickens are coming home to roost

  • Comment number 41.

    "As I've written in the past, public sector employment has actually grown during the recession, and so have public sector wages.
    That is not unwelcome."

    It is to us poor sods in the private sector paying for more civil servants at a higher rate of pay.

  • Comment number 42.

    @26 WolfiePeters

    Ref Tax money, absolutely I admire the military but I'd forego trident for education & the wider education, i.e. craft courses, youth leaders for cadets/scouts/outdoor events/brass bands/DofE awards, local environmental courses to give people a chance of rural employment, pay thatchers/artisans to take on trainees, drivers, fun science lessons & less red tape for people supporting these initiatives. Value to economy, little immediately, invaluable long-term. I'd hope that as the bailout is repaid that there is money to develop & reward private & public enterprises/initiatives that develop the foundations of our future.

  • Comment number 43.

    Individual employees excepted, many of whom are dedicated and hard-working, public services are generally over-bureaucratized, inefficient and wasteful. Cut-backs are inevitable to save money.

    But who will pay for those put out of work, both directly and indirectly (eg:suppliers and sub-contractors)? What are the sums involved? Like the MP's expenses enquiry where the money gained is less than the cost, is the disruption worth it?

    A period of slow growth, no pay rises, job-sharing, less greed (bankers beware!), lowered expectation, simpler life-style would gradually allow this profligate government to catch up.

    I am starting by canceling my Sky subscription, and unless BBC and ITV seriously reduce their level of trashy entertainment, my TV goes too. I will rely on the net and good old steam radio.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'd appreciate comment from others on this but as far as I can see we simply have far more people than can ever be reasonably employed.

    Computers or more specifically software replaces people and the internet allows processes to be moved to wherever is judged to be most cost effective. This process will continue to accelerate. Witness self service scanners in supermarkets.

    I have trouble seeing why we would need 50% of the working population to have degrees. I believe in the past the ratio was about 10% which would seem a more appropriate proportion in the real world.

    The logical result of this is that a degree will be required for the most basic of jobs purely because the employer will be be able to pick and choose.

    WOTW, glad to see you back, but please don't give me a hard time - I'm trying to play catch up but you can't be right all the time (can you?)

  • Comment number 45.

    The problem is not so much about how much public sector employees are paid, nor how many there are - it's about how few of them are actually productive!

    There is so much duplication, bureaucracy, wastage and pointless 'non-jobs' that money is being frittered away. We don't get much actual public service from a lot of our public spending, and the problem is compounded by the future cost of pensions.

    It's all very well saying that this is an automatic stabiliser (but then so is unemployment benefit - at least that is temporary and cheaper) if you are from a Keynesian viewpoint, but you know very well that the public sector was swelling just as rapidly during the boom!

  • Comment number 46.

    #24 ishkandar,

    You really have our dinosaur head on today don't you!.

    If jobs continue to be shed by the private sector. Then we do need to look for innovative mesures to not just employ people (a la the King of dge Hill) but also be productive.

    Should unemployment top 3 million (public and private) then we are likely to see a return of Toxteth and Brixton

  • Comment number 47.

    Stephanie's comments do not take account the fact that the private sector failed all of us and Keynesian economics supports the cutting of such poor market areas. For over 20 years now the funding details can be seen for the Public Sector budgets and these have funded, the local newsagents and the many youngsters who are now funded by their parents. Reduce public expenditures will start to bring social disorder as we are truly a public sector economy. Stephanie quotes pay figures in the sectors and this is misleading and fails to understand the benefits brought into our society. The decline of the UK as a manufacturing centre and now a service sector shows something quite clear. We need to reevaluate what sort of society we would like and what we can afford but not in terms of Public versus Private sectors. If we economically tinker with economists forecast we will go down the wrong road.

    Where are the idealists? Where is the new society we deserve? Not in the BBC

  • Comment number 48.

    So, the private sector screws up, and suddenly they clamour that the public sector must suffer as well. 'Privatise the profits, socialise the losses', they call, 'so we can get back to where we were'. Not the level of observation I'd expect from a BBC public sector worker.

    This crisis has been brought on by a profligate, debt ridden private sector, whose attitude to people and customer satisfaction has deteriorated greatly over the years. Ask the CBI and other business 'leaders' what their attitude is - to paraphrase, 'greed is good' and they deny any need to have a social conscience or social responsibility.

    I'm on the side of any well run organisation (public, private, voluntary) that offers a good product, competetively priced, backed up by good customer relations. I can't understand how this simplistic arguement would solve the major problems the UK economy has, and don't think this is the solution.

    Why don't we have a blog on why the private sector needs to pay dividends from profits, not extra debt?

  • Comment number 49.

    #40 Steve

    "Unemployed can mean unemployable. Our kids have been lied to for a long time about what they can do."

    My experience exactly. In my consulting firm, nobody under the age of 40 had the experience, education or aptitude; that was true 20 years ago and it is truer now.

    It is not the fault of our youngsters; they aren't educated or brought up properly.

    If I were you, I would be inclined to look further afield outside the UK in such places as Scandinavia and Northern Europe and some Asian countries. They generally have a better knowledge of grammatically correct English, and have higher educational standards.

  • Comment number 50.

    Ms Flandes asked: which side are you on?

    An odd question if you ask me. Because I don’t think these two sides actually exist in reality.

    And for many families (mine included) one works for the public sector (my wife) and one for the private sector (me).

    It’s pain all round this time, unless you’re in the upper echelon of politics and finance of course.

    The real division is between everyone else and the political and financial class.

  • Comment number 51.


    Should have read "King of Edge Hill"

  • Comment number 52.

    Re: 40 Steve.
    I am forced to say, the 16-25 year olds I have interviewed recently - , have completely failed to impress: No interests other than "socialising with friends" and "Watching football". No Hobbies. Magnificent Educational results: damn all knowledge about the subject of science or engineering.


    You are quite right in your Post where you say that Chickens are coming Home To Roost, for what has happen is that while and before leaving School Education those passing Examinations have been lead into believing that ALL they need to do is to Pass Examinations without ANY insights whatsoever into what Life is really like on the Factory - Floor.

    Of course, armed with an array of Certificates these wan'abees then turn up at interviews expecting to be chosen for a placement in a Company, without any REAL knowledge of what lays, and is expected before them.

    It was by far much easier back 30 Years ago when for the most part, any Person leaving School would have been expected to enter into an Apprentiship of between 5 - 7 Years before they were considered in any way able to merit their worth independently to a Company, by the time they reached 25 Years of Age.

    The problem we have today is that it is our Children that are being Socially Engineered through their Schooling Years, leading to a NO failing curture of worthless Examination Certificates.

  • Comment number 53.

    If this is a recession of youth, then why do I come across stories every day of people similar to myself - late 40's early 50's with a wealth of experience in sectors (Water engineering in my case) and proven work ethics, whose jobs have disappeared from the market never to be replaced. After almost 12 months with just 5 weeks temporary work at minimum wage, I am being very tired of being told I am either "too old to be retrained" by 30 yr olds who perceive my experience as a threat to their position in the workplace, or being discarded with the comment "we can't pay for that level of experience" .... I know that - but I'm not even given the opportunity to interview for positions often at or just above minimum wage because the UK has written off an entire generation who still have 20+ years of work left in them. And right now there is NO political party who cares about such a dreadful waste of talent.

    Please can we have a section on the ballot paper for 'None of the Above', as it would appear the only way politicians will give one let alone two hoots is if none of them are returned into their cushy, protected, over privileged jobs.

  • Comment number 54.

    Unfortunately in our globalised world a non-skilled school leaver now has to compete with his equivalent living in Poland. The government needs to wake up to the fact that low paid non-skilled jobs must be created in the UK.

    The minimum wage is too much to remain competitive in certain industries, and until the government allows businesses to be established in areas like the Midlands and NE that can employ at less than the current minimum wage, we will have a massive problem with youth non-skilled unemployment.

    We need to wake up as a nation and realise its a fantasy to think that we now as a nation are all a highly educated elite doing high powered high skilled "knowledge based" jobs. Over half of 16 year old do not have a pass at Maths and English.

  • Comment number 55.

    I am currently studying, due to finish in a few months and leave with a predicted first, and the statistics for graduate employment are shocking.
    The debt we as students regularly incur in order to study is at an all time high, and set to get higher. Despite this, student numbers are at an all time high.

    These degrees take us out of the NEET statistics, but many students are studying degrees with absolutely no practical value.

    Others still are studying useful degrees, but are completely unsuitable for academia.

    I am currently studying law, not at Oxbridge. That makes my chances of entering the legal profession, at best, slim. Despite this literally dozens of my cohort are going to attempt it (with nowhere near my average or my extracurriculars / contacts), and in doing so will incur even more debt.

    We have an education system where students are doing extra education not for sake of being educated, for for a specific purpose, but merely to avoid becoming a statistic.

    Those that graduate with nonsense degrees, or a poor pass have no better employment prospects than those that chose not to go to uni.

    Those of that are doing more rigorous courses, and set for a reasonable mark, have merely theoretical knowledge. Practical experience in any discipline is almost impossible to come by - for law, the only real opportunity is to work at somewhere like the Citizens Advice Bureau.

    I would literally jump at the opportunity to give my labour away for next to nothing just to get the practical experience I need to be a viable candidate for employment (in any reasonable industry!).

    What we need is a legacy involving a solid work ethic, a dedication to promoting degrees of reasonable utility rather than churning out Media, Animation, or Computer Game Design degrees by the bucketload. Perhaps even a re-labelling to make the traditional BA/ BSc subjects actually stand out. Better yet, instead of giving us 8-12 hours of lectures (in huge classes of up to 200) / seminar (commonly up to 30!) why not give us practical tasks that involve doing work for free for small business.

    Clearly Great Britain PLC can never revert to a manufacturing base given the inviability of our labour costs, so a focus on an innovation economy is needed. We need to have a legacy of rigorous academic training, combined with practical experiences - If education focussd on churning out employable and practically able graduates rather than teaching to pass exams, then the economy as a whole would benefit.

  • Comment number 56.

    It is funny to see the posts of the Labour apologistas (they know who they are) who come up with selective/irrelevant/inaccurate 'facts' about how things were in the early 80's or some such time. I need cheering up after reading some very worrying conclusions from Stephanie's blog.

    "It's safe to predict that the recovery will be less kind to the public sector than the recession was."

    When is this recovery going to start? It hasn't yet and we are borrowing £200 billion against our childrens' (and childrens' childrens) to keep some non value adding public sector in work. Sooner or later this has got to stop and then the 'real' part of the double dip recession will kick in.

  • Comment number 57.

    48. "So, the private sector screws up, and suddenly they clamour that the public sector must suffer as well. 'Privatise the profits, socialise the losses', they call, 'so we can get back to where we were'. Not the level of observation I'd expect from a BBC public sector worker."

    The public sector is not a human right, it is an idea that is paid for by society. If we can't sustain that privilege then it goes, simple as that. It is awful for all of us the situation that we have been put into by economic mismanagement and stupidity. Unfortunately fairness has nothing to do with it.

    And the argument that its better to have people underemployed in the public sector that unemployed is incorrect. If we cannot support the benefits claims then the payments must fall.

  • Comment number 58.

    Post 52, I couldn't agree more.

    The current system ignores failure and dumbs things down to make almost everyone a winner.

    We have children leaving schools with lots of qualifications but no skills, abilities or common sense and a heightened sense of their "worth" because everyone has told them how wonderful they are in school.

    Sadly in the real world an inability to be able to string together a coherent sentence and a lack of reading ability along with an absence of a work ethic doesn't entitle you to a free ride in life.

    They won't work long hours, or shifts, or unsocial hours and expect everything on a plate.

  • Comment number 59.

    'Unproductive' and 'waste' are words that have the same meaning in the public sector or the private sector. They exist in both sectors in huge quantities.

    In some areas they catch up with you faster than others. A small, private sector enterprise may fail in weeks, while a department in the civil service will thrive on waste and inefficiency. And, somewhere between the two, there's the rest of society. It depends on, amongst other things, the ease of access to free cash and the criteria used to measure success and prestige.

    So no division, just different levels of motivation to do a 'good' job.

  • Comment number 60.

    55. I completely agree and this mirrors part of my experience.

    One of the most frustrating things about having a £16,000 debt on your shoulders as you enter the working world is the knowledge that my degree could easily have been completed in two years not three. 8 hours of lectures a week...

    I really think that degrees need to be much more vocational and integrated with the economic labour needs. I say this but if that had been the case for me and my economics degree then I would have been taught how to crash and burn the economy of a once major developed economy... so maybe best we don't learn from our elders in economics!

  • Comment number 61.

    One important factor is not mentioned in your blog.

    There is a world wide shortage of work.

    Because of technological development in area after area, productivity has increased dramatically in recent centuries, so that fewer hours of work are needed to produce the goods and services we need or can afford. If the world were controlled by a benign authority, interested only in maximising human happiness, we would all be enjoying more leisure and the uneven distribution of wealth would be corrected, so that everyone had enough of at least the basic essentials of life.

    But instead we have free market capitalism.

    The glut of labour means that those who work for a living or want to do so, have a very weak position in the market relative to those who provide the capital needed to provide jobs. Thus fewer and fewer workers are able to earn a living wage, while those who control capital, ie bankers, earn unbelievable salaries.

  • Comment number 62.

    This recession has been an absolute nightmare for young people like myself. I graduated from university last year on the pretences that a degree would enable me to excel my career prospects and opportunities. How wrong I was.

    I am living on the breadline on a day to day basis, in huge debt, I am struggling to survive and every day. I job search about six hours a day, every day, but find nothing for my chosen field. This is having a HUGE, huge physcological effect on me.

    I feel like giving up and living on benefits - well thats what seems to be "acceptable" in the UK these days. What a joke. Not enough is being done to help people like me in a horrible, awful stagnant situation. Maybe I should just join the dole queue and flip burgers all day... I'd be a highly qualified one at that - what a waste......... sigh.

  • Comment number 63.

    #48 Jhonny Arrowmaker,

    "I'm on the side of any well run organisation (public, private, voluntary) that offers a good product, competetively priced, backed up by good customer relations. I can't understand how this simplistic arguement would solve the major problems the UK economy has, and don't think this is the solution."

    In my understanding you are describing a marketing orientated organisation which has the customer need at the core of its startegic decision making. However, when presenting the same comment myself I was 'informed' by some of the flag-waving SME contributors that this was wrong and that neither is the customer the most important factor or should the customer be allowed to direct the organisation. No wonder we have such a failure in our manufacturing sector and subsequent lack of employment opportunities.

  • Comment number 64.

    A private sector recession from a socialist government - what a surprise.

    Everyone in communist Russia had a job - they just could not buy anything. Real purchasing power comes from production and savings - of which the UK has neither.

    High youth unemployment and underemployment show the absurdity of the minimum wage. "if you did have a job you would be paid at least £5.80 an hour" There is no such thing as a "fair" wage - this is purely subjective, usually measured against overpriced assets such as houses.

    Income tax meeds to be reduced massively with a medium term goal of abolishing it, along with corporation tax. Instead of the rich and mobile leaving the UK they may set up businesses here and emply people. Government does too much, badly. Government is the problem not the solution.

    I am afraid that too many British people live in a post empire bubble of entitlement, happy to recieve no end of "rights" as long as someone else is paying.

    Until that changes the decline will continue. Then the mob will blame the capitalists.

  • Comment number 65.

    An empire begins by a country having a warrior instinct, It has lots of brave warriors, great generals and it conquers the weak opposition. It has hardly any beaurocrats, schooling is essentially military techniques and absolutely no healthcare and welfare etc. Its hard and tough, but it works. A similar strategy works for an economic empire.

    As the empire grows, it tires of fighting, it starts creating great architecture, valuing universities and scooling, health and welfare. However, it makes itself vulnerable to other players who are in the initial part of the cycle I mentioned above. They are lean, hungry and cheap, value life less etc. It doesn't matter whether they attack by military or economic means we lose, because the UK is spent. We have gone soft, we have lost our empire, we have little in the way of raw materials, we are not doing anything other countries cannot and they are able to do it cheaper.

    What we need to do as a country is
    a) decide what we are good at (goodness knows what I admit). Invest in
    that area, do NOT allow foreigners to be involved in the devlopment
    etc. Ban outsourcing to third world and importing cheap labour to
    generate unemployment here (this also happens when skilled staff are
    brought in - our staff are not trained - its simply cheaper - but we
    never get the knowledge).
    b) Health Service
    50% cut. NO cosmetic surgery, gender surgery, saving microscopic
    babies - the world is OVER POPULATED FOR GOD'S SAKE
    sweep away all this nonsense about someone may DIE and we must save
    them at all costs- everybody DIES! Yes there are personal tragedies,
    but its just damn economic nonsense to try to save everybody when we
    as a country don't earn enough to pay the nations bills
    c) Armed Forces
    we should keep our nuclear deterrent, but update the current fleet
    and missiles to make it suitable for another 20-30 years at a
    fraction of the cost. However, we should concentrate on our armed
    forces protecting OUR country, not interfering in everybody else's
    problems. The armed forces hierarchy is like a dinosaur with the top
    echelons based on our world war 2 inventory of ships, planes and
    tanks.The MOD civilian staff should be less than 1/3rd of current
    d) Education.
    Teachers and lecturers are overpaid and do far too few hours for
    the salaries paid. Virtually everyone now has some piece of paper
    which makes them qualified, but they are often useless and unable to
    show common sense and do a simple task unaided. Reduce graduates to
    circa 20% of population and 20-50% do old style tech work related
    qualifications with much time in the workplace.
    e) Company Directors
    Many grossly overpaid, many have few or irrelevant professional
    qualifications and are jsut figureheads who are mates with others in
    the directors club
    f) Government
    Reduce MP's to no more than 200. Move from Westminster, maybe to a
    business park in the Midlands or North - chamber to accomodate all
    members. Live in student type ccomodation. Electronic voting. No
    attendance, no vote on debates. No whipping. No expenses other than
    g) Transport
    Put major investment in railways and get it started. Why does it take
    4 years from a Network Rail proposal for Manchester hub before it can
    go ahead? Work on the two currently unused standedge tunnels could
    easily start in 6 months with no disruption so they are ready in good
    time. When will the work start 5-8 years from now (if ever). Add rail
    service to ALL airports.

    Internal flights within this country less than 400 miles should
    simply be banned.

    Roads. Ban heavy lorries travelling in excess of 100 miles unless
    they are carrying a cargo which cannot go by rail. I accept this
    would have to be done gradually. Make heavy lorries pay their true
    costs. There should be a swingeing increase in road tax for any
    household which has more than two cars.
    h) Planning
    Have a clear-out of the architects who design buildings which are
    unsightly and unfit for purpose and intended solely to be "radical"
    to make a name for the architect and that only last 30 years. Stop
    planning laws being flaughted by demolishing EVERY building or
    extension built without planning permission.
    i) Immigration
    Stop it completely. The country is over-populated. Most people don't
    want vast areas under concrete.
    f) Social Security
    Increase money for the blind and limbless and those with ailments
    which mean they cannot work.
    Support for first child only. Only basic accomodation to be provided
    for homeless. Single parents who have never worked and have children
    would have them taken into care until they got a job, with limited
    visiting rights.
    Unemployed must take ANY job that they can realistically do after 6
    months of looking. If they don't turn up etc no benefits at all.

  • Comment number 66.

    Take a careful look at how much a public sector worker earns.

    If a hospital porter retires at 60 with a stipend of £18k per year till the age of say 90. That's a wopping Half Million pound benefit.

    If a police constable retires at 55 with a stipend of £24k per year till 90 that's an eye watering £800k worth of benefits.

    Headmaster retiring at 60 with £46k per year stipend....£1.4m worth of benefits.

    How does this compare to a small buisness owner who has spent his life grafting hard, who has looked after his employees and who retires at 70 with bugger all?

    Senior civil servants with seven figure pension entitlements dangling temptingly just a decade or so in front of them make decisions based on how not to jeopardise the 1500 weeks of paid holiday coming their way. They would be daft to make decisions on any other basis.

    Why for instance would the top guys at the FSA, BoE, Treasury have stuck their head over the parapet in say 2005 and said STOP THE BOOM...if it meant them kissing good bye to a million or more quid?

  • Comment number 67.

    #54 jonearle,

    Perhaps you are right. But if you are going to allow employers to pay less than minimum wage then you must also put a low limit on the maximum wage allowable for the managers of these organisations and a super tax element applied to anything over minimum profit. Don't like that addendum? - thought not.

    #52 LondonHarris,

    Apprenticeships are a good element of employment and development provided that they actually do deliver developmental training. That was not always true in the past.

    I would also accept apprentices receiving lower rates of pay/training allowence. However, there does need to be controls in place to ensure that unscrupulous employers do not take-on large numbers only to shed them when the apprenticeship was completed and the individual entitled to a full wage.

  • Comment number 68.

    Seems that if a job can be done overseas then it is being done overseas, people is one resource the world is not short of and more are arriving as I write. My job (and perhaps career)is over since a well known financial services company exported my job and 200 like me to India as well as bringing an considerable number of employees from India to the UK on intra-company Visas. I guess no consumption in the UK is OK when there are so many consumers elswhere? however when capitalism no longer serves the people then better watch out. Truth is of course it never served very well in the first place.

  • Comment number 69.

    #33 Perhaps your lodger should have taken the initiative to tell his Tesco manager that hiring him directly may work out cheaper than going through agencies who take a large "cut" out of what Tesco actually pays.

  • Comment number 70.

    #39 There are jobs crying out for *qualified* warm bodies to fill them Down Under and they still do speak English (of sorts) there !!

  • Comment number 71.

    #64 truths33k3r,

    "Then the mob will blame the capitalists."

    And they will be perfectly justified in doing so. Your proposals are infantile in the extreeme.

  • Comment number 72.

    I cannot help feeling that in every single area of UK governance Labour has let the population down very badly:-
    i) Huge opening of the gap between the rich and the poor
    ii) "Education, education, education" Sadly has'nt helped these youngsters
    iii) No more boom & bust - say no more
    iv) No money in the kitty for a rainy day.
    v) Instigated, designed and implemented FSA overseeing the banks
    vi) Two wars - Say no more
    vii) Astronomical and uneccassary rise in public sector workers
    viii) Failure to regularise public sector retirement age with private sector
    ix) Eye watering increase in business red tape and PC policies
    x) Billions wasted on discredited NHS computer system
    xi) Billions wasted on discredited ID card system
    xii) Vast increase in quango's + vast increase in consultants
    The list could go on and on and on, I cannot believe I was stupid enough to initially vote for this incompetant bunch of bungalow brains. They have bankrupted a nation and ruined young and old lives.

  • Comment number 73.

    >>55 Good stuff. I agree, on the whole.

    Stephanie, you say: "Every labour-market expert I know is deeply concerned by these figures - especially those falling employment rates for 16-17-year-olds, which could have an impact on their social and economic prospects for decades to come." Can you elaborate on this? What analysis do they give? What solutions do the experts put forward?

    I am a student in journalism and I am currently writing my thesis which is an article about the emerging market for unpaid work experience- a signal of how desperate some people are (or whoever pays is).

  • Comment number 74.

    If this is a tread hijack then I apologise, but I can't help having a crack at Peter Mandelsons attempt in trying to get some creditors dosh back from the Dubai Islands project, (some may say oh no not him again), but really the whole western world has been taken for a ride and sunk in the sand over this. There is considerable western company business interest at stake; and so far Dubai world or whoever is meant to be organising it is offering 60% back after 7 yrs to avoid insolvency. Well I'm glad my business doesn't run on such terms.
    Ones first reaction is, who is responsible for this large infrastructure project, state Dubai it seems. If one looks at the organigram one finds a rabbit warren of sideline companies all with vested interests.
    How on earth can a deal be struck with so many dealers and middlemen ? As I see it, the corporate dosh which was sent out will never be returned in its original value after 7 yrs ? It will be covered up in the sand. If Peter Mandelson is trying to get the £22 Billion quid recovered, I think the arabs have other ideas. Next door to Dubai has no problem with cash. Interesting poker game being played here. My guess is those construction companies waiting to be paid up, big names at that will probably get bailed out via government credit and then binned. Another write off heaving scandal. Your views.

  • Comment number 75.

    This is uncomfortable stuff; what is the situation over the other side of the North Sea and English Channel? Are we any better or any worse than the likes of Germany and France for example?

  • Comment number 76.

    steph: Get employers into schools to recruit,job fairs, give employers huge tax breaks for new hires, give real tax incentives for part time work for school kids. Introduce work fare and compulsory work cleaning/ gardening snow clearing training tax inspectors anything! Sack a few diversity and synergy departments, stop town twinning, and have clean streets and parks railways. Make it tax free for a year to work.


  • Comment number 77.

    comment 32
    The public sector does a lot of good, but the public perception is one of an over complicated system that wastes money. This is based on fact, as for nurses on £17K don't believe the half of it, they are paid very well for doing a great job now. However not every nurse is an angel or indeed a good nurse. Until people in the public sector can be fired for being bad at their job - like everyone else, and the job for life culture ends, then I am afraid that the public sector will remain wasteful and inefficient, which is what people are not happy with.

  • Comment number 78.

    #46 If this government continues to interfere and tax productive companies into bankruptcy, unemployment will pass the 3 million mark !! All in the name of Political Correctness, of course.

    Then again, the Loyal Opposition hasn't got a clue what to do either !!

    Those with marketable skills/knowledge are moving where there are jobs. In my recent trip East, I met a rising number of young Brits there !! Many are in decently paid employment. There were also a few who, through desperation or stubbornness, just couldn't find decently paid employment but refused to give up. Some are working in less-well-paid jobs. Still, all kudos to them, who went to the mountain instead of waiting for the mountain to come to them !!

    Meanwhile, back at the Job Center.....

  • Comment number 79.

    The Labour Government had big ideas about "raising standards" by promoting the notion that only people with degrees would get a decent job and earn a high salary to justify the many years of sacrifice. The problem with over-emphasising academic qualifications at the expense of practical skills is that no one wants to do the menial tasks any more that provided so much employment in the past; hence the flow of immigrants in recent years to fill the gap. However, these good folk (many of them well qualified in their own countries) are not going to be satisfied with doing lowly-paid jobs for long. As they move "up the ladder", who is going to take their place? Expect trouble.

  • Comment number 80.

    There is a simple cure to the problem - stop outsourcing computer (IT) work to non-EU countries. Even the government is looking into doing it. All major UK companies (BT, BBC, Aviva, Lloyds Bank to name a few) have turned over some, or all, the control, running and design of their computer systems to non-EU workers. There are 50,000 non-EU IT workers in the UK, doing simple work that a young graduate can do - these are backed up by 500,000 off shore. All to do work for UK companies! These are not call centre jobs.

  • Comment number 81.

    #47 >>Reduce public expenditures will start to bring social disorder as we are truly a public sector economy.

    Since the public sector produces no real wealth, if we are "truly a public sector economy", then there is no future for Britain. There will only be ever-decreasing rounds of borrowings until everyone else refuse to lend us any more and Britain disappears into a black hole !!

  • Comment number 82.

    IT was supposedly something this country was good at. The salaries were high, but there was never really a shortage of good people as was claimed by companies. What there WAS was a shortage of cheap IT people. In addition, there was also a huge cost to business because the whole IT workforce had to be re-skilled every 7 years or so as the latest development (or in many cases FAD / marketing blurb) came along. Some companies bit the bullet and did the training and took the cost hit, however they found that other compnaies could avoid this hit by simply paying more as they had saved on doing any training (which takes from 6months to two years to become really good at something new).

    Big business cried we want cheap labour, Labour wanted loads of immigrants in for their votes. They are paid circa a quarter of what you would have been on and are doing very nicely thank you. They are also likely to have better education and training than you will have had and a lot more of it. I succumbed to your problem a few years ago by an early adopter. From an individual businesses point of view, the logic is perfect, from the country's point of view its ludicrous and from your point of view devastating. I share your sorrow.

  • Comment number 83.

    Interesting posts.

    Employers seem to be consistent in stating that too many of our youngster lack the basic skills to be employable (my experience is similar, plus up til now there was a definite lack of work ethic - I suspect the work ethic point will change following the recession)

    I disagree with the poster who state that there is a global shortage of work - in a recession that is probably true but in the longer term I see no evidence of that. However, what I do see (which is an inevitable result of standard economic theory) is that developed countries like UK there is a definite shortage of unskilled work for the masses - that type of work has moved to other countries. We suffer from an almost complete lack of an apprentice system - I would like to blame the minimum wage for that but my recollection is that the problem pre-dated the minimum wage.

    I do have sympathy for the public sector workers who have posted here. It is not nice to know that something like 20% of you will be cut over the next few years - but the public sector was, even pre-recession, too big to support, and as for public sector pensions - well lets just say any forum on that is very heated.

    In my firm (like many others in the same sector) we had to tell the staff a year ago that they had a choice 10% redundancies or 10% pay cut. To their credit they took the pay cut even though for some that was incredibly tough financially. I can only hope that our business improves over the next year so that I can start returning some of that cut to our staff. The public sector has yet to experience the same concerns that my business has had to

  • Comment number 84.

    #53 Meanwhile, Aussieland has drought on one side and floods on the other. Perhaps they need water engineers like you !! They are always asking for *skilled* workers !!

  • Comment number 85.

    Re: 62 Neil.
    I am living on the breadline on a day to day basis, in huge debt, I am struggling to survive and every day. I job search about six hours a day, every day, but find nothing for my chosen field. This is having a HUGE, huge physcological effect on me.


    You are clearly in a position not of your choosing stemming from a false vision given to not only just yourself, but also to the many others of your Generation that now find themselves in the same position as you.

    While it once seemed an easy thing to do by encourageing your Generation to wrongly believe that there will in ALL our futures be a never ending supply of Jobs for those whom would consider themselves to be able to attain a Highly - Paid Job as a Career, which for the many has turned out, "as you say", to being a nightmare in waiting along with a now large Personal Debt to worry about.

    In many ways where you are today is - NOT your fault, but given the excepted ideas of the past by Central Government to the views in opinions that EVERYONE can achieve their Career prospects in Life, was rather like saying that the Skys the Limit without exception, which should have forewarned everyone that there is and never was any State of Play that ever managed to circumvent everyone into being able to land the Jobs of their choice.
    For on this part it has been a complete failure upon the part of ALL Government Ministers for Education to forewarn of the fact that their will indeed, as you have belatively found out that there are those that MUST Fail in any System to progressively attain a high level of over-qualified personal, by only manageing at best to being able to find if possible in our current Employment starved Market place, the REAL Rights to ANY kind of Employment, be it either Full or Part Time.

    This is proving that too continuing to still be passing the Unemployed through Hoops of Re-training, and Further Education as being a complete waste of Time, all the time NO ONE in Government or elsewhere has done NO Homework whatsoever as to what future Jobs Markets are needed, and in with Areas any future Investments can be Set to advance to any future High Standard of living along with the required Skills that would be needed, instead of just leaving our Younger Generation to drop - out with no real planned futures ahead.

  • Comment number 86.

    One thing to remember about the public sector average pay rises - apart from the 'public sector bankers' it also includes pay for nurses, teachers and soldier's pay that has increased mostly with public support.

    As a local authority employee for the last five years I don't think I have had an above inflation or even inflation equalling pay rise. From memory I think my biggest pay rise has been 2.45%, and that was when inflation was well over 4%.

    In the sector I work in (homelessness and housing need) as you can imagine our incoming work has increased - however our staffing levels have fallen (natural wastage), although interestingly the number of 'strategic' managers appears to have gone in the opposite direction

  • Comment number 87.

    What many people dont understand is the difference between public sector workers and civil servants. Rises in employment have come through the increase in nurses, teachers, police etc which no one would complain about as I would neither but the civil service i.e. tax office employees, prisons, courts, job centres etc have seen large reductions in staff over the labour government. 40,000 alone at HMRC which is about 40%. I as a civil servant in the prison service am under no illusion as to what is coming after the election, cuts cuts and more cuts but this will be fought against by our unions which is our right to do so. Maybe if the private sector was more unionised then redundancies may be less than they were but a private company will always take advantage of a recession to cut posts and save money even if not needed. Whether public or private the cold faced workers should stand together and support each others instead of this us and them attitude......oh and by the way we havent had a proper inflation pay rise since 2006....if the public/civil sector is so good and there is plenty of jobs around why dont you all come and join us for this easy life.

  • Comment number 88.

    Post 77; But the administrator gets paid a lot more for normal hours and none of the grief, trouble or heartbreak. I am in East london and in hospital again tommorrow: when the job centre and the street at the back of the hospital is full of unemployed british/settled white asian & black people, why is it staffed with so many immigrant workers. Isnt the NHS perfect for workfare/work training- benefits plus free meals and £50 a week bonus.Its the work ethic & incentive to earn we need to tackle, to work pay tax and get free help not just take and take- "innit".

  • Comment number 89.

    I'm pretty fed up of people assuming the worst about the unemployed between the ages of 16-24. I have to wonder what they would do in my situation.

    I am not uneducated or inarticulate. I have a degree from a prestigious redbrick university, I am continuing to seek qualifications to make me more attractive to employers. I have held short-contract positions of great responsibility, and volunteered in various organisations and societies throughout my studies. But for some reason, no-one advertising a permanent job, entry-level or otherwise, will give me the time of day.

    I am sick and tired of being patronised and looked down upon because I am unemployed. I have immense potential that for some reason (which I am presumably unequipped to identify with my big squishy graduate brain) I am not allowed to demonstrate. My graduate friends are either lucky enough to have contacts who can find them employment, have retreated back into academia, or are in the same boat as me. And those of us on the breadline are very, very annoyed.

  • Comment number 90.

    We outsource and need to get degrees because our cost of living is so very high, and its easier to sign on than work for the same amount so many jobs offer.Wheres the incentive? For once tax those who outsource not a bit but so much they won't trade here, cant go offshire and trade here and others will fill the gap, the market will work it out. Let government build more new towns, trade tax free if you move to a depressed area and hire there. Make it planning permission free for that area and ignore the local council. Build nuclear power stations we need them and get on with getting britain working. Its SIMPLE - Grrgh Aargh.

  • Comment number 91.

    81. At 6:39pm on 17 Feb 2010, ishkandar wrote:
    #47 >>Reduce public expenditures will start to bring social disorder as we are truly a public sector economy.

    Since the public sector produces no real wealth, if we are "truly a public sector economy", then there is no future for Britain. There will only be ever-decreasing rounds of borrowings until everyone else refuse to lend us any more and Britain disappears into a black hole !!


    For the UK Economy to work properly there needs to be striked the right balance between both the Public and Private Sectors, along with any period adjustments thrown in for good measure.

    The problem we have currently is quickly becoming the worse of both Worlds, in as much as the Jobs Market in the Private Sector has contracted so far now that we can hear the pips squeak, while of the Public Sector front there will be a reduction in the overall size of this State / Local Authority Sector to save Public money, which will produce more Unemployment with the Private Sector unable to take in any of the future Unemployed due to own down - sizeing in contraction of Labour.

  • Comment number 92.

    66 iceland express
    You take a very simplistic view there of public sector pensions, for an hospital porter to get £18k they would have had to work for 40 yrs continually in the public sector and have a final salary of £36k, they would have contributed to their pension it is not all free (yes I know they are paid from public purse but still subject to employment costs tax NI etc) , at that level 7 to 8% p.a. in the majority of those years they would have suffered, statistically lower pay than the private sector, continuous abuse from users of their services. Maybe a little bit of support in their retirement would be justified, Public Sector pensions were traditionally final salary because of the low wages they had during the long years of public service accumulation needed to get one. People see big pay offs for Civil Service executives and think all public sector the same, you might want to check stats on how many receiving Child Tax, etc. As for Police I cannot comment do not know their pension scheme.

    The problem with a lot of pension schemes is that employers took long contribution holidays when allowed to by certain chancellors which then reduced funds in schemes along with vindictive tax claw backs from a chancellor. That as well as fund performances over latter years.

  • Comment number 93.

    #85 LondonHarris, I feel for your position and everyone should be allowed to work in their chosen field but judging by the position your in then you should be applying for any job not just something which suits you and your qualifications.

  • Comment number 94.

    89 Island Gorilla

    'very annoyed'

    I'm not surprised. The whole fabric of the lie which is this culture is that if you invest and do your bit then a reasonable outcome will occur. the chances of that have steadily been dropping from the 1980s.

  • Comment number 95.

    The problem is lasting because of the decisions related to redistribution of the wealth. The bankers "convinced" the politicans that they were the ones in need. The wealth was distributed upward....again. Had a more just approach been taken that recognized the losses of personal wealth in retirement and investment accounts and a process developed either with direct payments or tax credits established that assisted the individual the economy would be in a more positive direction. As individuals are more cautious now about job security, large purchases and acquiring long term debt, they are not generating demand in the economy. Demand creates jobs. Politicans usually do not admit mistakes so it is unlikely that they will do what needs to be done. It is the day to day purchases of people that drives the economy not the trading between the money lenders. The government can wait until everyone feels more secure but that may take a long time. As the rules for the bankers have not changed no one feels confident that any funds they mnight be saving will be there at a future date. The silence on the matter of losses of personal wealth shows the real disconnect between the those who govern and the governed.

  • Comment number 96.

    #80 Island Gorilla

    You (and many more like you) clearly have a problem!

    In times of plenty, graduates are recruited onto graduate training programs by large and medium sized companies. Small companies can rarely afford graduates unless they are in a high-tech environment such as engineering. The medium and large companies recruit graduates either as very clever techies (who will in general continue to get offers) or as potential management - with a need to send them round teh business to understand it inside out for maybe 3 years before getting a junior management position - until then little payback.

    When companies are under stress, they sack temps, contractors and simply cancel graduate recruiting. They always lose a lot of graduates on the way and, hell, they've got plenty of managers at the firm and EVEN MORE who are fully experienced and probably need little more than an induction to get started .... and all for peanuts.

    Graduates, especially with lots of qualifications expect lots of dosh and lots of expensive training and also have precious little loyalty o their company historically. Thus its a no brainer where to cut.

    I apologise for depressing you, but rather than getting more qualifications, it might be better to make an OFFER to work for half the salary offered in an advert for six months. After all you'll be able to say you've got some experience if they get rid of you and they may keep you ... if you really are as good as you suggest!

  • Comment number 97.

    93. At 7:14pm on 17 Feb 2010, HotorColdiDontmind wrote:
    #85 LondonHarris, I feel for your position and everyone should be allowed to work in their chosen field but judging by the position your in then you should be applying for any job not just something which suits you and your qualifications.


    If you take the time to read my Post correctly you will see that I was responding to a previous Post, and while I agree that everyone should be able to Work in their chosen field of Career attainment, which is within some sections of Society an easier thing to say than do, given that many Skilled Jobs are either not wanted, and of those that are wanted are over-subscribed with many having to take on any Job rather than none.

    That is of course, if even any Jobs are available, and on offer.

  • Comment number 98.


    Consider this -

    The whole objective of the industrial revolution was to produce more and more and sell it for less and less. Mechanisation is designed with the single outcome of rapid production. This process has been transfered to the silicon age. Again the objective is to produce more and it cost less and less.

    There are limits to this outlook. There are for example limits to the number of cars that are needed, production overcapacity stands a 25 percent in the EU. The simple fact is there are too many things being produced too cheaply. The only solution is for them to become more valuable. This will occur either by us all becoming poorer or changing the way stuff is produced. There is no other outcome. For the industrialisation approach to work you have to have people who are not industialised, and they are running out.

    The youth unemployment is symptomatic of work reducing as an activity. The young are the most vulnerable in this process so they show up first. That is all that is happening.

    With the decline of work then the public sector will fail as very very simply there will not be the money for it. That is a an effect just as the youtj unemployment is an effect.

    Until HMG realise the problem then it is all a waste of time. I have seen no sign of them understanding the problem, it is essentially more of the same and it will not work.

    The only way forward is to put value back into product, which immediately points to durability, not revolving consumerism and landfill.

  • Comment number 99.

    Employment will not be resolved until the UK and EU decide to take back the jobs that it has allowed to be outsourced. To do that we need to adopt developmental protctionist policies.

    We do not owe China or India a living and they most certainly do not owe one to us. Only when we return our capabilities can we really look at our education and training policies with any sense of reality.

  • Comment number 100.

    #89 Island Gorilla. Leave the country is my advice. Plenty of cheap places around. A little travel broadens the mind as they say. Find somewhere with a bit of tranquility and ask yourself why you ever believed their lies in the first place. Answer that question and you will learn something about yourself.

    Same advice I gave myself when I was in your position some years ago.


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