Youth Contract ‘alone won’t resolve youth unemployment’
By Vivienne Russell | 19 September 2012
The £1bn Youth Contract launched last November is not enough to tackle the ‘unacceptably’ high levels of youth unemployment, MPs have warned.
The Commons work and pensions committee praised some aspects of the design of the contract, which was launched by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. They said it uses interventions proven to work, including work experience placements and apprenticeships. The inclusion of a scheme for 16- to 17-year-olds was also welcomed as this group is not currently offered support by JobcentrePlus.
But there was criticism of the narrow scope of some of the interventions. For example, only 16- and 17-year-olds with no GCSEs at grade A*–C are eligible for help from the Youth Contract, an approach that excludes a larger group of disadvantaged youngsters, the MPs said.
And the wage incentives offered to employers are unlikely to be enough to encourage job creation, the committee found. Chair Dame Anne Begg said the incentive scheme provided no guarantee of a job placement for long-term unemployed young people and might be less effective than previous schemes.
Begg added: ‘The Youth Contract is welcome but on its own it will not be enough to address the current unacceptably high level of youth unemployment. Young people need effective support from government to counteract the disadvantage they have long suffered in the labour market but they also need a return to economic growth and a substantial increase in the number of new jobs.’
Responding to the report, Peter Box, chair of the Local Government Association’s economy and transport board, said: ‘We are encouraged the committee has recognised support can only be effective if it is co-ordinated and tailored around the local services, learning providers and the jobs available to young people.…. It’s now vital that government makes sure organisations that it selected to deliver Youth Contract provision in local areas work closely with councils.’