Britain’s Minimum Wage Short-Changes Young Workers

by Chris Shaw

The national minimum wage introduced in 1999 by the Blair government was seen as one of the best policies to tackle exploitative work and the conditions of low pay. What better than to create a floor under which no one can fall? Well it seems that floor was not so stable, as young people have borne the brunt of this misguided policy. Effects as serious as rising youth unemployment, significant underemployment and a range of masking effects have led to a situation of under-saturated labour markets and the continual need for young adults to seek other activities such as university education and government-based training schemes, or simply drop out of the labour market altogether. It has also had the effect of de-skilling young people and making them reliant on the welfare state and low-skill, low-pay employment through Jobcentres and Jobseekers Allowance schemes.

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