Growing up in the Britain as a young person is not what it used to be, and before the perpetual optimist’s chime in about how we have never been happier, healthier, or wealthier – you are understood. On the broad scale of progress, we have an ever-increasing level of health and convenience – on demand media, on demand groceries and devices that know more about us than we ever will.
Much of this progress has been material and we are guilt tripped into being thankful for it whilst sitting in our parents’ homes, jobless, with grossly underutilised skillsets. Many of us brimming with degrees and future proof talents. If you look at a 25-year timeline of Britain, the fate of our youth has been on a steady decline ever since the introduction of tuition fees in the late 90’s. First materialising at £1000 then reaching £3000 in 2004 and eventually hitting £9250 by 2018. Student protests in 2010 did not move the government whatsoever, they do not care.
Ever so often we are told how we will never pay the loan back or at the very least, it will appear miniscule on our professional salary. The point is that you are tied into a loan at a noticeably young age to support a massively overstretched education system, which seeks to provide a route for everybody no matter the level of intellect.
Surely this drains the value of a degree and it soon becomes nothing more than a ‘premium A-level’ – a racket to leave students accountable for funding higher education. At least the government can avoid blame when educational standards begin to slip, and bureaucracy spirals out of control. We chose to take on these loans, right?
University fees are only the beginning and fortunes began to dip after the 2008 financial crisis, millions lost their jobs and the entire nation suffered from the ensuing austerity policies. Austerity in theory is a sensible idea, cutting back on your expenses, living within your means a little more. Yet, when somebody is on their knees, it is difficult to bounce back, let alone innovate, and use the free market to its fullest, when you have no capital or jobs available.
Fast forward to the pandemic – where housing now costs 4 times what it did in 2003 and jobs are simply low, as in a warehouse picker or high skill, as in finance broker or software developer with no in-between, creates a very unsettling outlook. No wonder we are known as ‘generation angst’ when even working for a moderate standard of living becomes a matter of hyper competitiveness in a crowded job market.
Accusations of a ‘snowflake’ generation who do not want to work are equally as aged as those who spout them. Every generation bashes the prior generation, maybe it is just instinctual yet wherever go on earth, at any single moment in human history, this has been the case.
Progress is not inevitable as previous generations may have you believe; there has been a massive failure in our treatment of young people here in Britain and the evidence is mounting to say we are going to have a living standard lesser than our parents’ generation. Yes, kids will always be kids and we are growing up later, heading into our careers later and living till the 22nd century but what is a long life if you cannot live it well.
More than ever must we rely on ourselves to build, create and sustain the life we want because no government can fix this mess. For all our roadblocks we are building are far more inclusive and climate orientated society than before alongside navigating the online world with all its upsides and downsides. The pressure is heavy, and future is not promised but If you can be certain in something, it must be yourself because that is all we are being left with.