Friday, November 25, 2011

Nick Clegg offers hope with £1bn Youth Contract

It was good to wake up this morning to see Nick Clegg on tv talking about the Coalition Government's new Youth Contract, which aims to reduce youth unemployment which, at over a million, is at an unacceptable level.

Nick has always got how important it is to make sure young people were properly supported. In 2009, he launched his "Lifeboat for a lost generation" when Labour were failing to do anything sensible about youth unemployment.

It was really disheartening to see Ed Miliband and David Cameron bandying statistics around at Prime Minister's Questions the other day. Neither of them gave any impression of actually caring about the young people affected. I'm sure that's not necessarily true, but they simply didn't show it.

Every single young person should have access to either a job or some form of training - they should not be just left, unsupported.

To that end, Nick has been promoting the new Youth Contract which aims to:

  • give 160,000 wage subsidies and 250,000 work experience placements
  • at least 20,000 incentive payments to encourage new apprenticeships in England
  • more support in job centres and specialised help on applying for jobs
  • reaching out to most disengaged 16 and 17 year olds to find the best option for them whether it be back to school, apprenticeships or work placements
It seems to be a good range of measures which will help people in the way that best suits them, rather than a one size fits all programme.  It remains to be seen if the wage subsidies will work or whether employers will just get rid of people after 6 months and take someone else on - there needs to be proper safeguards to make sure that doesn't happen. However, Nick explained on BBC Breakfast this morning that employers had said that it was the initial costs of employing someone they needed help with. I want to be sure that any employer exploiting the system will not be given a single penny more of public money.

Let's hope that this set of measures will work and that young people will find it easier to get jobs or training that suits them.

Nick said:
The aim of the Youth Contract is to get every unemployed young person earning or learning again before long term damage is done. “This is a £1bn package and what’s different about it is gets young people into proper, lasting jobs in the private sector. “But it’s a contract, a two-way street: if you sign up for the job, they’ll be no signing on for the dole. You have to stick with it. “Youth unemployment is an economic waste and a slow-burn social disaster. “We can’t lose the skills and talent of our young people – right when we need them most. We can’t afford to leave our young men and women on the scrap heap. We need the next generation to help us build a new economy.  “If people are out of work when they’re young they bear the scars for decades. If they have a false start, they might not ever fully catch up. “These are tomorrow’s mothers, fathers and tax-payers. If they end up falling behind our whole society pays the price.      “It hasn’t been easy to find £1bn but it is the right thing to do. “We won’t allow the children brought up in the boom to bear the brunt of the bust. The next generation must not pay the price for my generation’s mistakes. So the Coalition Government won’t sit on our hands and let a generation fall behind.  “We want to give every young person a reason to get up, a reason to go out, and a reason to feel great at the end of the day. “Despite the huge pressures on the public purse we’re pulling out all the stops.


2 comments:

tris said...

As a person who has worked for about 15 years in the "back to work" business, and in particular recently with 15 and 16 year olds looking for a start in life after school, I'm always interested in any new scheme the government, whether ours or the one in London comes forward with.

My main worries about this pretty expensive package is that employers will (as Nick said) be tempted to exploit the situation.

It is, with respect, all very well to have the deputy prime minister say that he will act if he finds any case where this is happening, but in honesty, every scheme I have seen has employers who use it.

The trouble is that no one reports it. At every level people are just happy to have another placement. Whether it is the agency that the government pays by results, the Jobcentre, the DWP, or indeed the cabinet minister responsible, IDS or NC.

Everyone wants the placements, everyone wants the numbers in their area to be reduced. At the top, a million young unemployed is a national disgrace, and clearly an embarrassment to the Tories in particular, who did the same thing last time we had the misfortune to have to live under their beneficence.

My second worry is that staff, on targets, will be pressing kids to do things that they simply aren't interested in. I've watched people do it and I've had lads come and tell me that the staff are trying to get them, for example, to join up, and they don't want to but they are scared of what the JC will do if they turn it down.

These are people's lives, not figures, statistics. Margaret Thatcher hid the unemployed on sickness figures. The Tories have form!

But under Labour it was the same. Targets, targets, targets... and to hell with the kids.

I hope that, a t the most vulnerable time of their lives, these children (because that's really what they still are) are treated with care and compassion, not dumped into places they hate to satisfy some target driven functionary.

I generally welcome the moves, but after years of experience I am very suspicious of them

Lee said...

Tris; I'm a member of the lost generation of the early 1980s - approaching fifty and still looking for my first job. I agree with everything you've written, but practical solutions are required...my suggestion is to make the local authority the employer-of-last-resort for people once they've been unemployed for a set period of time.

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