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  • Writer's pictureFranck Banza

The UK's Missed Opportunity: Failing Our Youth Post-COVID-19

The recent decision by the UK government and the Labour Party to reject proposals for an EU / UK Youth Mobility agreement marks another setback for the nation's youth. This move stifles the aspirations of countless young individuals who are already grappling with significant challenges, including job scarcity, educational setbacks, and an uncertain future post-Covid-19. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-eu-youth-mobility-scheme-travel-b2531866.html



Amidst ongoing debates about the UK's relationship with Europe, it's disheartening to witness the government curtailing opportunities for our young people to study and work abroad. These opportunities are not just luxuries; they are crucial for the personal and professional development of young individuals. Travel and work abroad programmes have long been avenues for gaining invaluable skills, expanding worldviews, and understanding diverse cultures—keys to thriving in a globally connected world.


The irony is stark. Many of those who advocate for tighter restrictions on youth mobility have themselves benefited immensely from Europe's educational and professional opportunities. Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Suella Braverman and many more have enjoyed the privileges of studying, traveling, and working across Europe, privileges that they now seek to deny the next generation. This discrepancy between the opportunities available to the elite and the average young person in the UK could not be more pronounced.


Take, for instance, the young residents of Gorseinon in the Gower constituency. Many have never ventured beyond Swansea, not to mention outside the UK. Their worldview and consequently, their job prospects, remain constrained by their limited exposure to the broader world. This isn't just a loss for them individually but a societal failure.


What our youth need are policies that empower them to compete and succeed in a rapidly evolving global landscape. We need to foster an environment where learning and working in different cultures is encouraged, not hindered. The benefits of such experiences are profound: enhanced adaptability, increased cultural sensitivity, improved language skills, and a broader understanding of global markets and politics. These are the tools our young people require to turn challenges into opportunities.


The Liberal Democrats recognise the critical importance of youth mobility. Our commitment is to place the interests of young people at the heart of our policies. Personally, as a representative for the Gower constituency, I will be dedicated to advocating for and securing a better future for our young people. This includes fighting for their right to access international opportunities that broaden their horizons and prepare them for a diverse and competitive world.


We cannot allow the potential of our young generation to be curtailed by short-sighted government policies. It’s time to invest in empowering our youth, beginning with restoring and enhancing their access to the wider world, starting with our closest neighbours in Europe. The future of the UK depends on the success of its young people, and it is our duty to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed.


The UK government’s decision to reject the EU / UK Youth Mobility agreement is more than a policy oversight; it is a failure to recognise the aspirations and challenges of young Britons today. In this upcoming general election 2024, I call on all young people to register to vote and support politicians who truly understand your needs and are committed to developing policies that empower you. Your vote is your voice—make it heard for a brighter future.

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