Aug 18

Too many people, too few jobs

Reading Time: 2 mins

The turmoil in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East get worse by the day. I can’t bear watching the news stories for too long because the carnage is unbearable.

One thing that keeps coming to mind, though, is that while there are serious political and religious differences at the back of the violence, there is also the little talked-about fact that there is serious unemployment in the Middle East,  particularly among the young, especially men.

More than a quarter of young people are jobless in the Middle East and that means a LOT of young, strong, energetic men hanging around with nothing to do. Add in the mix the gender determination that is reducing the number of female babies born and increasing the number of boy babies and you have a very volatile mix.

After all, the Arab Spring was triggered by large numbers of young people unable to get work in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and more. As the Middle East is exploding in population they are going to have much more severe employment problems than the west in years to come.

Things are likely to get worse in other parts of the world too. Worldwide, youth unemployment is growing and currently stands at around 73 million 15 to 24-year-olds.

Next to that, our youth unemployment looks piddling. But it’s a problem here too, particularly for the unskilled.

The latest TUC report points to rising long-term unemployment in the UK.

This lack of employment has been predicted for a while as technology takes over millions of jobs worldwide that used to be done by people, particularly unskilled people.

Think of the factories that used to employ thousands and now have just hundreds manning machines. So many small businesses now can run on one person and a few freelancers where just a few years ago they needed a team to be successful.

So more and more of us need to:

  • Acquire new skills, probably technology-based, to be more employable (it’s the unskilled sectors that are particularly badly hit).
  • Find ways of making money on a self-employed basis and not sit around waiting for someone else to create a large business full of lots of jobs. These are not happening and they’re not going to happen.

Those of us who have jobs and have spare money need to think of how we can spread the wealth by buying time and leisure for ourselves, paying other people to do things for us so that we can take time off. It’s not easy when you’re used to doing everything yourself but paying for services that make our lives easier and more pleasant can help others put food on the table.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking of having children, please consider first if you can afford them and, particularly, afford to have them educated to a high level. It’s going to be the unskilled across the world who are left behind over the next decades. Technology has already destroyed millions of basic jobs, it’s going to take even more in time to come.

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