At one stage in my career as an economics teacher I stressed that we should always refer to "unemployed people" rather then "the unemployed" or the even move impersonal "unemployment": a reminder that we are discussing "people like us", in this case boys and girls, with aspirations like ours, for a decent lifestyle, respect, relationships and a purpose in life, and not just an abstract economic concept.
The £1bn aid package announced by Nick Clegg yesterday to help half the million unemployed young people into meaningful work is to be welcomed. The coalition has been accused of a "U" turn, since it abolished Labour's very similar "Future Jobs" fund. Although I supposed some form of "I told you so" knockabout is inevitable in a combative rather than a co-operative political structure, I believe we need to view changes of mind as evidence of a government prepared to learn from experience and respond to circumstances. How I should like to see asimilar change of mind on the present wrong-headed public spending cuts.
Because the problem we are facing, the reason young people can't get jobs, is lack of demand. Firms do not take on workers if they do not see demand, preferably growing demand, for whatever product they produce or service they provide. So Nick Clegg's "supply side measure," welcome as it is, will fizzle out and the young people will be back on the dole once the bribe to keep them in work runs out, if there is no demand for their products.
Honed and refined skills and and work-orientated ethos are not what is lacking, it is demand.