Youth unemployment

A 'lost generation' ...?

This issue sprang to prominence in August 2010, partly in connection with the launch of the UN's International Youth Year on 12 August. The source was a report by the ILO (International Labour Organisation, a UN body), which emphasised that youth unemployment world-wide had reached "its highest level on record", and warned that this raised the "risk of a crisis legacy of a 'lost generation' comprised of young people who have dropped out of the labour market, having lost all hope of being able to work for a decent living."

Specifically, the report says that of 620 million economically active youth aged 16-24 years, 81 million were unemployed at the end of 2009. In percentage terms, the youth unemployment rate was 11.9% in 2007, 13.0% in 2009, and was estimated to rise to 13.1% in 2010.

This should be of concern to our students - even if the collective wisdom seems to be that unemployment principally affects those who drop out of education early with little or no qualification. Not the case with IB Diploma students! However, as I write this, the flagship Spanish newspaper El Pais is running an impressive series of articles on young people in their twenties who have good qualifications but cannot find anything other than temporary, low-paid work. An example in front of me is of a 30-year old woman with a degree in Chemistry, a Masters in Renewable Energy Sources, and a job as an attendant in a swimming pool.

Why should young people find it hard to get a job? Is it the economy's fault? Society's fault? Their own fault? Their parents' ? ... What do your students think? 

Google research record

I adopt this procedure as a means of rapidly and efficiently passing on the selected results of my trawlings on the internet. The notes below are the sites which looked interesting, although I have not examined them all in detail, let alone worked-out teaching materials for all. A sample full-scale development is given below the box, based on the article A Record Number of Young Americans are Unemployed ...

The Google Research Record procedure is valuable as a means of ensuring that students' work with the internet is methodical. The benefits are:-

  • it is easy to do - in (understandable) note form, with the links added by Copy&Paste
  • it should have the effect of focusing students' researches on creating practical, usable results
  • working comments are expected (in green script, below), thus requiring thoughtful, annotated research
  • the results are assessable, revealing the quality of the student's approach and thinking processes

Note the layout ... the underlined phrase in red bold records the phrase entered for the Google search; inset sections indicate the results (with hyperlinks highlighted in blue); and comments and notes for further research are added in green script.

Youth Unemployment

Guardian article on youth unemployment

leading to ILO homepage and to the report itself (downloaded)

+ fact sheet (with some links at the bottom)

Try the YouTube links ? List Comp ?

Google collection of images

Youth unemployment September 2010

Joe Public Blog ... lively & up-to-date

lateral 'being young isn't easy'

Personal interviews about your unemployment

dooyoo m + a personal article about coping with (general) unemployment

** (avoid general terms > adjectives: 'young and unemployed' - choosing generalised words may sum up what you want, but may produce results which are equally generalised and abstract)

young and unemployed

young and unemployed cheerful blog

+ Sept 2010

The Atlantic 'New Jobless Era' article

Taliban youth unemployment ! + check out

Young unemployed and hip ...

I am young and unemployed

The Economic Collapse ... article + lively collection of personal comments

> the generation gap issue ... handout extracts

Youth Unemployment: Why?

Raising the issue

Step 1 ... raise the issue: mention the facts given in my introduction above. What do they think? Do they have any personal knowledge or experience of people being unemployed?

Step 2 ... give out the basic article + comment handout, and first deal with the article. Specifically, direct the students' attention to the questions at the end of the article, and ask for initial reactions.

Step 3 ... ask the students to read carefully the comment below :

Step 4 ... ask whether they find the comment convincing? If so, why? ("impassioned ... forceful ... based on personal experience ..."?) If not, why not? ("exaggerated .. anecdotal ... biased ... limited evidence ... rhetorical ... querulous ... hysterical ..."?) [Personal Rule #73 - Any text that uses either 'unbelievable!' or 'totally' instantly loses credibility.]

Studying a text-field 

Once the topic has been exploring at a basic level, we can move on to the next Steps: to consider some of the Comments that this article elicited. There are many more on the cited page, but I have selected a fairly representative sample. The handout contains a lot of reading, so how do we handle this?

[First of all, make sufficient copies for all of the class to see all of the Comments.]

Step 5 ... give out the first sheet (the one with questions at the top, and Wiggidy's Comment). Ask the whole class to read the Comment, and then have a general discussion of what they think about it.

Step 6 ... divide the class into small groups, and give each of the groups one of the other sheets, for discussion and analysis. They can now, and should, focus their discussions on answering the guiding questions provided on the first sheet.

Step 7 ... after due time, draw the whole class together again, and ask each group to give a short presentation, describing the Comment(s) that they have looked at. [At this point, it would be sensible to make sure that every student has a copy of each of the Comments.] The presentation should feature a short summary of the writer's position, and analysis of how the Comment is expressed.

Step 8 ... if there is still time (and energy!), see if the whole class agrees on the answers to the guiding questions on the first sheet ... if so, why? ... if not, why not? ... etc

...& Language

Provided the students (and you) aren't sick of the texts, they could be analysed for weaknesses of expression and use of language ...? Jerad's Comment is particularly in need of some correction.

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