THE Government and local councils insist they are doing all they can to help young people find work amidst the ongoing double-dip recession.
The Coalition has launched a series of programmes to replace Labour’s Future Jobs Fund and New Deal initiatives, putting a new emphasis on unpaid work experience as well as a concerted drive to encourage firms to take on apprentices.
Ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions insist youth unemployment has broadly stabilised, and say figures appearing to show a huge rise in the numbers of young people over the past 12 months are simply revealing the full scale of a problem which has existed for several years.
Chris Grayling, the Minister for Employment, said: “Youth unemployment is one of my key priorities. We’re taking measures to ensure young people are well placed within the jobs market. We have launched a wage incentive for employers asking them to take a chance on a young person.
“We are also offering an extra 250,000 work experience placements over the next three years. Work experience is proven to be effective and gives young people that all-important start on the career ladder.”
For their part, councils such as Sheffield – where more than one in four young people are out of work – are focusing on increasing apprenticeships in their local area to try to turn the tide.
Since launching its Sheffield Apprenticeship Programme last autumn, the city council said more than 100 young people have signed up. The scheme is targeted at those most likely to end up long-term unemployed.
Council Leader Julie Dore recently released an additional £500,000 to support another 100 apprenticeships this year.
Coun Dore said: “Our programme is different in that it aims to encourage young people who may not have been successful in the past at gaining an apprenticeship, or are most likely to fall out of education, employment or training and are in need of support.”
With South Yorkshire continuing to suffer some of the UK’s worst youth unemployment rates, Sheffield City Region now hopes to put skills training and apprenticeships at the very heart of a new ‘City Deal’ it will sign with the Government next month.