The steady rise in youth unemployment since 2004 has now reached over the one million mark. That’s more than one in five 16-24 year olds not in education, training or work: not because they are lazy or feckless, but because of factors well beyond their control. In Salford, shockingly more than 2,500 18-24 year olds are currently on Jobseeker’s Allowance.
This is worrying. If young people are out of work, the consequences of that will be felt for decades afterwards. We need to ensure that the young people of today do not have a false start and help us build the new economy of the future.
That’s why Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has unveiled the Youth Contract, worth £1bn. Starting next April, the Youth Contract will provide at least 410,000 new work places over the next three years for 18 to 24-year olds to help them into work, including 160,000 wage subsidies and 250,000 new work experience placements.
They will also receive extra support from the JobCentre Plus after they have been on JSA for 3 months. This will range from help with CV and applications to a careers interview from the National Careers Service.
Not only that, but the Coalition Government is also making 20,000 more incentive payments available to encourage employers to take on young apprentices.
Lastly, it will also help those most in need of support, those 16 and 17-year olds who are persistently not in employment, education or training (NEETs). This new £50m programme will focus on the most disengaged of the 26,000 in the North West of England to get them learning, on an apprenticeship or in a job with training.
As a Liberal Democrat, I’m proud that while we’re clearing up the economic mess that Labour left behind, the Coalition Government is ensuring that our children do not bear the consequences of Labour’s mistakes. This is the right thing to do to prevent another lost generation.