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‘Youth Contract’ unveiled by Government
Leap welcomes scheme to reduce unemployment for young people, but urges Government to introduce measures to specifically target harder-to-reach groups
Last Friday 25 November, the Government announced a £940 million scheme to tackle youth unemployment. In his Autumn Statement on Wednesday 30 November, the Chancellor then outlined specifics of the scheme which will start in April 2012.
The majority of measures are aimed at reducing unemployment for 18-24 year olds. These include measures aimed at workplaces, and at providing extra support to young people. Incentives for employers include:
- At least 410,000 new work places over a 3 year period
- A wage subsidy of £2275 to employers to fund 160,000 placements to encourage private sector employers to employ young people
- 40,000 incentive payments for small firms to take on young apprentices
Support for young people includes extra help from Jobcentre Plus, an offer of a work experience or a Sector Based Work Academy place if they want one and have been on Jobseeker’s Allowance for three months.
In addition to workplace opportunities, the Government has also announced measures to improve young people’s access to high quality work experience. This will be achieved through a £4.5 million investment over the next two years and partnership working between the Government and the Federation of Small Businesses and other employer groups to review regulations. A short guide on work experience will also be published.
In addition, the Government has said it will target £50million towards a programme specifically aimed at 16-17 year olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).
Once a young person has entered the ‘Contract’, they will be unable to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. All businesses are able to get involved in the scheme.
Leap welcomes the Youth Contract as a starting step towards engaging young people to get back into education, an apprenticeship or into a job. Through our own Young Volunteer scheme, we have seen the benefits of giving young people opportunities to develop skills in the work place. However, we are concerned that some of the harder-to-reach young people may miss out on these opportunities. We urge the Government to use existing networks and organisations in the voluntary sector, such as Leap, to ensure that measures are put in place to specifically target these young people.
For more information on our work with Young Volunteers, watch our BBC Lifeline film