by Steve Beasant on June 12, 2011
A private sector-led recovery is already under way, with more than 400,000 new jobs created this year.
However, youth unemployment is one of the great challenges. We can’t afford to let our young people be left behind and see their talents go to waste. A strong economy needs a highly- skilled workforce. Practical training for young people has been under-valued and under-funded for too long.
For too long academic qualifications have been valued above vocational skills. That is wrong. My father was a factory worker at Rowntree’s who later taught building trades at York Technical College. We must revive the respect we then had for skilled craftsmen.
Apprenticeships offer a way into more than 200 careers. We are delivering 250,000 more apprenticeships over the next four years than the previous government had planned and in March, we announced an extra £180million funding for apprenticeships.
We already have some outstanding apprenticeship schemes. Rolls-Royce is among the best. This week I went to the launch of their new academy in Derby. I have called on other employers to offer more apprenticeships and we are cutting the red tape to make it easier for large businesses to do this. Our new Access to Apprenticeships scheme will give up to 10,000 young people a year the extra help they need to get an apprenticeship.
We recognise that a big problem young people face is a lack of experience. That’s why we have expanded work experience and scrapped the rule that threatened 18 to 24-years-olds with losing benefits if they took part in a placement lasting more than a fortnight. Now they can do a two-month placement while continuing to receive jobseeker’s allowance. Companies such as Hilton and McDonald’s have already offered placements and we call on more to follow.
We will also launch work academies, with up to 50,000 places over the next two years, which will give people on benefits the opportunity to spend up to six weeks undertaking training and work experience, followed by a guaranteed job interview.
And we are investing £60million helping the most vulnerable young people get into work. This includes a new £10million per year Innovation Fund that will give voluntary, community and other organisations a chance to develop innovative solutions to help disadvantaged young people get into work.
For a long time young people didn’t get the support they deserved – now they will.