A £125M drive to prevent unemployed teenagers becoming a “lost Generation” of disaffected youth will be launched in Yorkshire by Nick Clegg today.
The Deputy Prime Minister will announce deals for new networks of private firms and charities to use public funds to provide highly tailored support to 16 and 17-year-olds who are not in unemployed, education or training – known as NEETs.
The three-year programme will focus on 55,000 young NEETs across the country with no GCSEs at A* to C, deemed by the Government to be at the highest risk of long-term disengagement.
More than 7,000 teenagers in Yorkshire will be given mentors, attend motivational speeches by ex-Forces personnel and put through intensive training programmes and work experience schemes to help them.
Ahead of the scheme’s launch in Rotherham today, Mr Clegg said: “Young people who have fallen through the net need tailored support to get back on track.
“We can’t treat them like round pegs being forced into square holes. Disengaged young people often have complex problems that act as a barrier to getting them learning again.
“Very often local charities and businesses know what’s going to help them. That’s why we’re unlocking funding for these organisations to be as creative and innovative as they can, to do whatever it takes to get the young people who need it most back on their feet.
“In exchange for this freedom, all we ask is that they get results.”
The Government has made clear that for the first time, the private contractors involved will be paid on a results-only basis.
In South Yorkshire, the contract for delivering the service has been won by a company called Prospects Ltd. It will work with a network of grassroots charities and not-for-profit organisations.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “We think payment by results is the best way to ensure that we deliver the best possible support for young people.
“It means the providers have to find the very best ways to help them if they’re to be financially successful, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Other schemes will involve helping youngsters to create CVs, improve social skills and providing them with work experience.
A project in the North West will see teenagers encouraged to take part in voluntary community work and in eastern England young people will be given advice on debts, benefits and housing.