Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Students deserve a brighter future

Today is D Day for thousands of young people who get their A Level results.

For them it will be the usual mixture of elation and disappointment depending on the results gained, but once the initial emotion dies, all of them face a grim reality. For this is a generation of young people who stare into a very uncertain future.

If they don't get the results required to gain a place at university here, their option is to go to Britain where the prospect of crippling tuition fees lies.

That may be enough to deter many from their dream of third-level education. Others will not get the sufficiently good grades to go on to further or higher education and that could harm their employment prospects in a hugely competitive job market.

More than one-in-five young people in Northern Ireland today are unemployed. That is more than double the figure when the Good Friday Agreement was signed 14 years ago. That agreement brought peace to the province, but not the hoped-for prosperity. There has been no peace dividend for our young people.

Leaving young people without hope could create great problems. In the most deprived areas it could create a powder-keg of discontent, but prospects are being dashed in every sector of society. Young people with top class qualifications also cannot find work.

The plight of young people does not seem to have the political impact that it should. Perhaps it is because it is a sector of society without a real voice. How else could politicians get away with the huge tuition fee increases of recent years? How else could they consign a generation to the scrapheap without penalty?

Yet the difficulties facing these young people should be addressed. They are the future of this province. They are among the best educated young people on these islands and they deserve a greater investment in their future, both on the employment and vocational training fronts.

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