I grew up with Thatcherism as the dominant political force. That meant regular booms and busts. But there were always jobs available, in London and the south at least. At the bottom of the ladder, admittedly. But there were jobs. Today? There are graduates unable to get jobs in Poundland. They’re over qualified. But they can’t get a job in the industry they are qualified for. They’ve no experience. That’s the problem when employment runs so high – employers have a large field to pick from, and there’s plenty of qualified, experienced candidates.
But I’m stunned at the lack of jobs even in the supermarkets. I haven’t seen a vacancy at the local Waitrose for a year. A nearby Sainsburys hasn’t had many openings to offer. Life is tough. It’s probably going to get tougher. A couple of years ago I discussed the European economy with one of my students. I was of the opinion that Greece would leave the Euro, sooner or later. I still think so. It will be later, rather than sooner, as it happens. But that possibly now means soon. What will happen then is anyone’s guess. I’m sure the world will continue to turn. Just with fewer jobs.
There are similar issues in Mexico. Although like all things Mexican, there are differences. For a start, Mexican employers are more likely to shut out candidates over a certain age, particularly females. Which means if you can’t get a job in your career when you’re young, you’re in trouble. It’s a sad situation. Unlike healthcare, housing, food and water, I don’t believe everyone has an automatic right to a job. I believe in a mixed economy which provides a basic safety net, not an outright socialist economy.
The problem for governments is that it’s difficult to provide those basic safety nets without having a healthy proportion of the population in work. And for the long term success of the economy, it’s important to get young, qualified people into the work they are trained to do. What solutions can be found? The Spanish have managed to reduce the proportion of unemployed youth. Now everyone is unemployed. The former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad (a living example of how genius and madness are so closely related, perhaps) recently suggested that the people of Europe simply have to adjust to being poor. Because they are poor. He probably has a point. The people of Greece disagree with this assessment. So will the peoples of all the other Euro nations. But reality and dreams have never been happy bed fellows.
Mexico has a key advantage to the UK here. Mexicans are used to being poor*. There’s much less of an adjustment to be made. And the Mexican economy is at least growing. There are, in the UK, vast areas of the UK, particularly up north, which are economic wastelands. Borderline Third World. And I use the word Third World rather than the more popular ‘Developing World’ tag, because there is nothing about some of these places that is developing. Mexico is developing. Parts of northern England are declining, stagnating, neglected. It’s all very sad.
* it’s a sweeping generalisation, I know.