THIS is not a good time for the young. Having spent years in the education system, with possibly numerous O and A-levels to their name, and completed extended studies and training at college or university, they are seeking work in a jobs market which has shrunk alarmingly.

Professions that once offered employment for life have disappeared or been trimmed to a point where literally dozens, sometimes hundreds of applicants of all ages, experience and educational standards, are chasing a single opening.

The global financial downturn, which has triggered the demise of many businesses and companies, even long-established ones, has exacerbated the problem of finding employment, but, in some professions, the chances of so doing were becoming remote before the collapse of the economy. I am thinking primarily of journalism and music, the two in which I have been involved since I left school in 1950.

When first I joined the Bolton Evening News, as it was then, the editorial department consisted of reporters, feature writers, sub-editors, a deputy editor and an editor. Once a story or feature had left the writer, it was made to “sing and dance” by a sub-editor, who marked it for type and assigned it to a page. The words were set in hot metal by linotype operators, proofed and checked for errors by the staff of a readers’ room, and placed into a page by compositors. From there, the metal passed to the stereo department; the pages were moulded into cylindrical plates which finished up on giant rollers in the press room, where the paper was printed. The process took several stages and employed hundreds of people.

In the 1980s, “progress” arrived, along with Eddie Shah, TODAY and the newspaper revolution, which saw production become computerised from start to finish, with the inevitable shedding of thousands of jobs.

There are no longer linotype operators, compositors or stereotypers. They passed into history, along with the readers’ room. With electronic communication today’s “thing”, newspapers, national and regional, have suffered savage circulation losses, and further dramatic staff cuts.

The music profession has been harder hit than most, with tapes replacing musicians, even in some major shows.

In my youth, the progression from amateur to semi-professional and full-time professional was made relatively easy for those with the requisite ability, thanks to the number of bands, big and small, and classical and semi-classical orchestras, working in different venues around Britain. One needs only look back to the era of ballrooms, concert halls, theatres, and clubs to appreciate that fact.

These days, legions of hugely-talented young people leave music colleges with the training and capability to satisfy any job criteria, but opportunities for them to make a living are in seriously short supply.

It’s the same across the whole employment range. It must be deeply depressing for young people who have applied themselves to developing whatever talents and abilities they were born with. It doesn’t fill me with much hope when I look at my grandchildren, and wonder what they are going to make of their lives. We haven’t left much of a legacy, have we?