Opinion: We owe scarred young Britons a future they can believe in

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft. Thus the 2008-11 “crisis cohort”, as the Resolution Foundation calls them, have suffered measurably lower wages, fewer career opportunities and more insecure work than their predecessors. Unless government, business and society collectively act, what lies ahead will beunfairness heaped upon unfairness. What caught the headlines was the Office for Budget Responsibility’s scenario of a possible fall in GDP of 35% over the next three months with a rise in unemployment of two million. Without vaccines and extensivecapacity to antibody-test and contact-trace, there is no prospect of an early and swift bounce-back – just a gradual, trial-and-error, partial easing of the lockdown. And, sorry tomentionit, but the self-defeating Brexit at a time of collapsing world trade is going to make matters worse. We failed to build an economy with roots, of firms with sustainable business models; it was a world of soft options, financial engineering, easy money and extravagant pay at the top. The first to be hit will be those who were due to take exams this summer, now to be accorded GCSEs, A-levels and degrees on the basis of their course work and teachers’ assessments. It is not faddishness that drives their passion to confront climate change, eat less meat, treat each other equitably and want strong relationships with their parents. So, all plans for recovery and rebuilding must be organised in a way that there is no disadvantage in being under 35 and, where possible, our societal debt is acknowledged. All organisations should be obliged to be purposeful generators of genuine value, housed in a reformed ecosystem of finance, ownership and regulation that fosters it. That is the precondition for creating great workplaces for young people and the possibility of building skills and careers. Too much of the burden – of paying taxes, of propping up the housing market as first-time buyers, of being the first to be made redundant – is borne by our youth. Where the young(ish) have negative equity as house prices fall (as they inevitably must), governmentand lenders must offer a mortgage guarantee. If this noxious microbe becomes the catalystfor changing that, it would provide at least one silver lining among otherwise overwhelmingly dark clouds.