Ask any Graduate, any under 30 modern worker in a western nation, and there’ll be a recurring theme that emerges in their discussion. No matter the background, there’s a word to describe the state of affairs for the young in the world:
And I’m not just referring to the news that bombards us every day with the state of things across nations, and across the planet as a whole. It’s fundamentally written into the landscape that we’re thrust into as adults, and what is waiting for those coming up behind us too.
Take employment for instance. Chances are everyone is fighting tooth and nail for those graduate placements, zero hours contracts and part time offers as much as they can. Most work a 21 year old can get these days is probably going to be shelf stacking for a supermarket for minimum wage, and that’s with a degree.
So what can you do, if your income is shit, and your prospects are unstable? Can you buy a home? Can you invest? Can you work toward more training, more skills, more opportunity?
Not unless your job is one of the rare schemes that offer a semblance of a future. And even then, there’s no real guarantee your job will be protected.The world seems to be shifting away from stability. Full time work seems rare, a career a goal reserved for only the most determined of graduates and apprentices.
Chances are then, anyone in their mid twenties is still struggling at home, still stuck in a small town with their folks, still churning through either college courses or part time work. Maybe temping will land you a position at some major company. Maybe you’ll be shuffled off to the next company.
Maybe you’ll get that sweet job, that full time salary and pension plan. What then though? Your job may be with an international firm, whose fortunes decide your fate. That fate could disappear in a moment’s flash if the world’s economy turns again; a scenario very likely in these turbulent times.
Given that climate, the option to buy a home seems a monumental gamble. Rental seems the only way: a precarious predicament considering the way the laws favor the landowner over the tenant by a ridiculous degree.
So if your economic situation is deeply uncertain, what of the rest of the world? Of life beyond work and life support?
Stories of refugees, wars and environmental turmoil pollute the airwaves and webpages. They draw the eye, placing imagery and predictions about how we’re all going to die of some form of cancer or another into our minds.
It’s hard to feel secure when the papers are telling you about terrorists openly killing people in the streets. It’s hard to even come to terms with the way the world is, when it’s repeatedly staggering from calamity to another.
To be young in this world is to face an uncertain era. What can you do? What can anyone do if they’re told the world’s shifting, the economy’s broken, and they’re up to their eyeballs in debt should they dare for an education?
What happens if their job is replaced by a machine? Code written by the underpaid, to replace the unnecessary, in a world where the unemployed are judged by the privileged? Where the people primarily benefiting from the reduction of the workforce repeatedly demonise the foreign and the forsaken to distract from their own hubris?
I don’t really have an answer. I could suggest politics, though that seems to be an increasingly rigged and pointless affair. I could suggest starting a business, though that’s even more uncertain than anything I’ve already said. The risks are massive, the payoff insane, but to do that you’d need a position of strength.
And if you had a position of strength, you’d probably be alright. The world seems less treacherous if you have the momentum behind you in the form of capital. Hell, even just having someone in the family own property is enough of a leap to change your whole life.
What if you don’t? Well, sorry to say, but anything you can do to improve your lot, is increasingly under siege for ideological, political and economic reasons. Money it seems is being shifted from the infrastructure that could enhance your lot in life to the people increasingly in charge of the whole machine. A machine that is failing its people.
The way things are going, its going to be a painful century for the young. The environment, homes, jobs, work, automation. It’s all coming to us, right at us, brought to us by the enlightened decisions of those who will either be unaffected or directly profiting from these futures.
All we will have is uncertainty; whether we will make it another day, or join the ranks of countless unemployed and forgotten, abandoned in the wake of economic turmoil.
In such a climate, all I know is that more chaos and tragedy will be the only certain future that comes.