Young people marched on Westminster in bowler hats, suits and briefcases campaigning for their "right to work" ahead of the release of unemployment statistics on Tuesday.
The march was to raise awareness for of the statistics, to be released by the National Office of Unemployment, which is predicted to exceed the current estimate of one million young people unemployed. The demonstration culminated in a meeting with minister for employment Chris Grayling.
Their outfits were evocative of ‘The Son of Man’ Magritte painting, featured in The Thomas Crown Affair, and reminded onlookers that youth unemployment is not a faceless statistic.
Gathering at the historic protest site outside Westminster, the teens stripped off the top halves of their outfits to reveal T-shirts that said: "Ready to Work".
Joseph Hayat, 18, from Lincoln and Hafsah Ali, 17, from Leicester have spearheaded the campaign, as part of T4’s flagship youth show, Battlefront. Trying to get companies to take a chance on young people eager to go to work, they have the support of musicians Ms Dynamite and Charlie Simpson.
Hayat is a Deputy Member of the Youth Parliament as well as sitting on the government child exploitation advisory committee. The high-achieving teen previously used to run his own airline business. He said:
“It feels like our generation is really suffering at the moment. It’s a vicious cycle – we can’t get a job without experience, and we can’t get experience without a job."
“The ‘Walk for Work’ is all about making a big noise and making sure the government continues to focus on youth unemployment and it’s another way to get employers to notice young people and all our amazing talents.”
Teens Hayat and Ali want to get a thousand new businesses to pledge to take on young people by 2012. Chris Grayling, Employment minister said:
"I’m going to support the Ready for Work campaign by getting job centres to work with Joseph and Hafsah to get 1,000 young people back into work. It’ll be a pleasure to work with them on this project."