Young people in Lowestoft have their say on the election
- Credit: Nick Butcher
With people ready to go to the polling stations, Journal reporter JOE RANDLESOME visited Lowestoft College and spoke to students at an event hosted by BBC Radio Suffolk, to gain an insight into the thoughts of young people and their engagement with politics.
With the candidates from each party putting across their key messages around education, employment and funding for young people, Lowestoft College students were fully engaged at their recent hustings with those standing for Waveney.
Students were poised with questions and eager to hear how each party could benefit them.
In the audience were college students Stuart Ingram, 19, Oliver Cocca, 20, Christopher Woof, 20 and Shari Phipps.
They spoke to The Journal to give their view on the election after studying courses ranging from engineering to health and social care.
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What are your big election issues for Lowestoft?
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Stuart: 'Education for me. They focus too much on the 'C' grades and not as much on any other grade there is.
'I wonder if lowering the required grade to a 'D', would mean more people had a chance of a successful career.'
Christopher: 'There are not enough jobs round here. There is nothing that appeals to us and says 'wow' I need to go there.
'Where we are in Lowestoft is not that busy.'
Oliver: 'I think that when you leave education most teenagers are unsure of what career choices to make.
'I want to focus on engineering but there are hundreds of different sectors which is really confusing if you have just come out of high school and you don't know which sector you want to go in.
'I was wondering if there should be a system for specialist engineering advice where people from the industry can sit down with young people about how they can work towards their goal and push them to the right sector.'
Shari: 'Transport is the big issue for me. If schools can get free bus passes then why can't students at college because it isn't fair.
'Transport issues have caused me problems because I live about eight miles from here.
'And with all my medical problems I can't really bike or walk here. My only option is the train or the bus.
'I have to pay my bus fare to get here because I want to do this course. How much my bus fare is a week doesn't cover how much I get in my bursary.'
Do you feel you receive enough guidance about who to vote for?
Christopher: 'I could probably say more about it if I had more of an understanding about it; I have just been thrown into it really.
Stuart: 'I am 19 and am going to vote for the first time this year.
'When I said to my mum I might vote, she said you don't know much about politics so why vote?
'I said because I want to and to get my point across as young people are the future generation.'
What more do you think could be done to help get young people engaged with politics?
Oliver: 'I think it should be a mandatory subject because you need to learn about it before you are able to vote to make up your mind.
'When you do get the chance of learning about it, when you are about 16 or 17, it doesn't give us enough time to think.
'We need more of an understanding'.
Christopher: 'I think our teachers in schools need to say about politics to get us hooked in and why we should vote. We don't know the bigger picture of what our actions mean so if we get told it at a younger age at middle school, we would have more of an understanding.'
What other issues in Lowestoft need focusing on from your perspective?
Stuart: 'I don't think there is much to do in the town now.
'If someone tried to start a business here I don't think it would be that successful because of all the money that isn't here.
'The third crossing as well. it would be better if they had something that went underground instead of above ground because then you wouldn't need to lift up and lower all the time.'
Oliver: 'We need a third crossing and to have a more accessible route for people to come into the town.
'Also I don't think that are that many jobs in this area that are unskilled now.
'Even if you work in KFC, you've got technology and any sort of job needs a decent education.
'To get a job you need experience, it is a vicious circle that will always be a problem.'
What were your views on the hustings event and has it helped you make up your mind?
Shari: 'I enjoyed it but I think there is more that can be done to assist me. The event helped me decide who to vote for.'
Stuart: 'I think what people tend to dwell on is Conservative and Labour. That is basically like playing a game of poker. You should bet on the long shots as they will probably turn out the best.'
Oliver: 'The Green Party had some very good points. I am not very familiar with the Green Party as it is not publicised as much as the other parties but he did well. They are not going to have as many opportunities to get seats so we should maybe give them a chance.'
Amber Spearing, Suffolk Youth Parliament coordinator and lecturer in health and social care said: 'I brought a class of 12 down here today.
'This morning we did a workshop and most people weren't going to vote.
'They were quite apathetic about voting as these are people that have just turned 18, but now, just watching people's faces, and engagement in the session, they all put their hands up to say they are going to vote.
'We need more events like this for young people to engage with politics.'