Flaws in PM's jobs strategy

IT was paradoxical that David Cameron was talking up the UK's growth prospects when new concerns were being expressed about his coalition's cuts, and their impact on young people seeking work.

And, while the Prime Minister's desire to lead a government where every department is pro-enterprise is welcome, Mr Cameron may have to revisit his pronouncement that decisions on training should be taken locally. If this was so, then the Future Jobs Fund – a scheme set up to help find work for hundreds of young people across Yorkshire – would not have been axed. It may have been refined to reflect the change of government, but it would not have been abolished because the need to curtail youth unemployment has become so pressing.

However, this is simply not possible because the decision was taken in Whitehall – and in direct contradiction of the 'localism' approach being advocated by Mr Cameron.

The Prime Minister is also mistaken if he believes the creation of directly-elected mayors in several major cities, a flawed concept judging by Doncaster's difficulties, is going to kickstart regional economies.

Measures are needed now, certainly before school-leavers flood the jobs market this summer, rather than in several years hence – and this policy failure is re-enforced by a major report which is critical about the ineffective manner in which quangos are being axed or, in the case of organisations like Business Link, having their funding reduced.

Not enough thought appears to have been given to the consequences of these decisions, or the assertion by academics at Sheffield Hallam University that state-funded job-creation schemes are vital in those areas which have become heavily dependent on the public sector.

Barnsley is a case in point. It has above-average unemployment, a reliance on the public sector and will not benefit from one of the new super-mayors being proposed.

Everyone accepts that the PM has a difficult balance to strike between talking up the economy and implementing cuts. A measure of his coalition's effectiveness will be whether young people in a town like Barnsley are successful in finding work – or whether they face a life of deprivation because the Government failed to pay heed to the specific social and economic challenges of such communities.