Youth unemployment: Government package not enough on its own, say MPs
The Work and Pensions Committee has concluded that the support from the government’s Youth Contract will not be sufficient to address the high levels of youth unemployment.
Interventions such as increased Jobcentre Plus (JCP) adviser support, work experience placements and apprenticeships are seen to be useful. However, the report goes on to highlight a number of areas of concern.
It argues that the JCP Work Experience scheme should focus on the quality of work experience placements as much as the quantity. This will ensure that the experience on offer is valuable and increases young people’s employability.
A key element of the new Youth Contracts are focused wage incentives. By structuring pay scales, young people will be encouraged to stay in work rather than go back on benefits.
Further, targeted measures of support may prove to be necessary to support disproportionately high unemployment rates amongst minority groups.
The Committee welcomes the inclusion of a new scheme for 16–17 year-olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs). The vast majority of NEETs do not receive support from JCP as they are ineligible for Jobseekers Allowance.
Attention has also been drawn to the division of responsibilities across government departments and the involvement of public, voluntary and private sector organizations that coordinate the Youth Contract.
The report also warns that an excess of schemes is not cost-effective. It argues that the sheer number of agencies involved could create complexity and confusion about where to find appropriate support and advice.
The report recommends the introduction of a dedicated telephone helpline for employers wishing to offer job, training or work experience opportunities to young people.