Youth voice – Youth vote needed

There is only so much you can say in 400 or so words – that’s why I am going to dig deeper into the theme of my last column, which presented the general context and statistics for youth unemployment in the economic recession that is unfolding. While there is no silver bullet for fixing this difficult economic situation, there are a number of factors to consider regarding the needs of those disproportionately affected by this global pandemic – young people.

It’s often the case that the voice of young people is not considered when it comes to decision-making. In this respect, it’s perhaps appropriate to begin by sending out a friendly reminder that we have an election around the corner. Unfortunately, the reality is that young people are the group in society least likely to engage in elections. This apathy needs to change and voting must be understood as an act that shows care for the wellbeing of our community and nation. This election is the time to press political parties on their policy addressing the Covid-19 consequences for youth. It is imperative that there is a targeted youth recovery plan to combat persistent youth unemployment and under-employment, which bring such harmful social and economic costs.

A good start for any plan would be to engage. Engage with educators, employers, civil society, youth organisations, and local authorities to shape a policy framework that promotes the long-term needs of young people. And to give credit where it is due, the government’s targeted training and apprenticeship scheme is a positive step in the right direction to help transition to a new pathway in critical industries with no burden of cost.

Another point for consideration is encouraging and facilitating innovation. In recent times young people have demonstrated their passion for protecting and caring for our environment. Why not build on this enthusiasm by providing grant funding for youth- led innovation projects? Often youth have all sorts of ideas, but they need the support to activate them. Let’s help our young change-makers to rise up.

Furthermore, our local youth organisations are doing great work on the ground in our communities to support young people. They could benefit from extra support to further the reach of their valuable services. Democracy is not a spectator sport. Young people – your voice is needed this election as we ride this road to recovery. Elections in their purest form are a contest of ideas. Let’s make sure the ideas promoted are ones that will provide opportunity and inspire confidence in empowering youth for a changing future.