How we treat our 16-24 year olds is both the biggest opportunity and the biggest threat for Manchester over the next five to ten years. If we get it right, the long-term result could be a very bright future for our city. But if we get it wrong, the effects could be catastrophic. Not having a clear youth development policy for Manchester simply isn’t an option.
Apprentice numbers are up, but research suggests that apprenticeships are failing both businesses and the youth they employ. When it comes to business, I’m only interested in clarity and quality, as mediocrity always struggles to compete. The private sector isn’t delivering here, so our only option is to create an 'in house' apprenticeship system where one body liaises with local businesses to supply what’s actually required.
A big threat to local entrepreneurship is young people leaving university and starting out in Manchester with a risk-averse nature, after being saddled with sky-high student debts. Working with organisations like The Prince’s Trust, we need to create a positive environment where young people and their ideas can flourish, to the extent that Manchester becomes the UK’s number one place to start a business. It’s a simple formula: new ideas from young, agile minds create jobs!
That said, it worries me that there’s so little I can put my finger on in the way of youth culture at the moment. This is totally different to the situation in 1988 when I first came to Manchester. My generation is the first that’s held the hand of the one coming through – and it looks like we’re starting to pay the price. My message to all 16-24 year olds is to get off your tablets and smartphones, and get involved in the stuff that shapes your future.
As Mayor of Manchester, I’d be more than willing to help any young person who’s struggling to start out in their career, provided they meet me half way and do more to help themselves. The 36% turnout from the 18-24 age group at the Brexit election is a classic example of our young people’s lack of interest in who will dictate their future, something that’s extremely worrying. It's almost 200 years since the Peterloo massacre so i hope at this election young people turnout in bigger numbers.