Teenage Unemployment - What it Really Feels Like

Submitted by Reddebrek on April 28, 2018

I HAVE BEEN UNEMPLOYED FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS. Since I left school I have had two jobs, one in a warehouse, this lasted for nine months before I was fired, the other was at Woolworths. I was there for two months, and along with five others was sacked for slacking.

It is a pleasant experience to be on the dole for this period of time, though it has its disadvantages; I mean when I want a job, and this often happens — you miss the pick in the hand feeling and the smell of the factory etc. (I think it's your mates you miss most). Of course you forget the clocking-in and the captivity bits — but then you want the job because the lass is up the stick or something, and you can't get it. Usually though, when they are there to get, the wages are so poor for lads, that I prefer my dole money.
And if I seriously wanted a job I couldn't get one because of my record: (which is not half as bad as some of the other lads' are).

Q: How many jobs have you had?
A: Two. One at Finneys Seeds and one at Woolworths.
Q: Why did you leave?
A: I didn't. I got fired.
Q: From both?
A: Yes.
Q: How long have you been unemployed?
A: Two years this Christmas.
Q: Which school and what standard achieved?
A: Firefield Sec. Mod. and I didn't take any exams because I was in the "D Form" all the way through.

Most of the interviews I've had, have taken this form, and I never got the job. Another disadvantage is the National Assistance Board. As soon as I applied for National Assistance they sent an inspector who comes snooping, makes snide comments about us not being married, and suggests I move on to another district in search of work … Move

TOM PICKARD is eighteen and lives in Newcastle. He has been unemployed for two out of the three years since he left school.

on to another parish … That suggestion is mad. Tyneside is not the only black spot.
Snide things happen all the time on the dole, things which no one does anything about. Employers have a choice of a dozen lads, and therefore offer a very low price — knowing someone will take it. They know that pressure from parents — who want their kids working no matter what — gives them the opportunity to fix wages to their own liking.

Lots of lads hate being on the dole, because to many of them it means being out of pocket. The boys who have just left school and are entitled to no money because they've paid no stamps, and are too young to claim national assistance, will jump at the chance of any job. These are the lads who the car-wash firms are aiming at.

Every time I have been offered work at the dole, one of the jobs will be car-washing. If at any time I go in and ask what they have, car-washing will always be mentioned. All the lads who have been on the dole for long will avoid the car-washing firms. In any case it is the lads of fifteen who are preferred. They can be paid the lowest wages — £2. 17s. The hours are long and the breaks short. Half an hour for lunch. They are expected to work alternate week-ends. The job is very heavy and most of the boys can't stick it very long — but the money is better than they would get on the dole.

Usually after a week they are fired for skiving (resting?) or have had all they can stick and hand their notice in, which means they are on the dole again with no or little benefit. Usually most lads hand in their cards and so are not entitled to benefit for six weeks.

Once again they are at home during the day, being nagged at by their mothers for giving the job up, and for living off her. So the chances are that they will take another dead-end racket job, when it comes along, are increased.

Obviously as more kids leave school and fall into similar situations, the exploitation of the unemployed will continue. The Youth Employment Officers take little interest in this sort of thing and no action against it. I have heard an employer complaining over the phone that the boys sent to him were not suitable for the situation, and as a rate-payer he was being badly done to. The poor cunt wants his labourers with degrees. "I herewith return goods stamped not suitable. In future please send me best stock".

The officer at the phone was all "Yes sir, and no sir, and let me lick your balls". I don't know what powers or authority they have, but it is not used against the employers (that is in aid of the workers), but for them it seems. They are not there for the welfare of the unemployed (as I mistakenly thought till now) whatever they think — they aren't there to see us "done right by", to look after us. They are there to put us into categories and to know which one to send after which job, which ones Mr. Woolworth and Mr. Carwash wants, which one Councillor Smith wants for his comfortable, but modest little firm's office, and which thick and tough ones could be sent to Wimpeys for laying roads. (Though now they want the intelligent ones for labouring even.)