By Daniel Hunter
In a report published today (Wednesday), the Work and Pensions Committee concludes that the Government’s Youth Contract is a good start in attempting to tackle youth unemployment but that, on its own, it will be insufficient, given the scale of the current problem.
The report comments positively on some aspects of the design of the Youth Contract. It builds on the types of interventions which have been shown to have a positive impact: increased Jobcentre Plus (JCP) adviser support; work experience placements; and apprenticeships.
The Committee welcomes the inclusion of a new scheme for 16—17 year-olds, the large majority of whom do not receive support from JCP as they are ineligible for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).
The Committee acknowledges that the Government has sensibly focused wage incentives - the key new element of the Youth Contract - on longer term young unemployed claimants and there is an attempt to achieve sustainable job outcomes by linking wage incentives to the Work Programme payment structure, in which providers are financially incentivised to keep participants in work and off benefits in the longer term.
Commenting on the Youth Contract approach, Committee Chair Dame Anne Begg MP, said:
"The Youth Contract is welcome but on its own it will not be enough to address the current unacceptably high level of youth unemployment. Young people need effective support from Government to counteract the disadvantage they have long suffered in the labour market but they also need a return to economic growth and a substantial increase in the number of new jobs."
Dame Anne Begg MP said:
"Some of the measures in the Youth Contract have been shown to be effective but they will only make a significant impact if all the targets are met. Our concern is that there is a real risk that the Government will fall short of its more eye-catching targets. In particular, past experience shows that 160,000 wage incentives is a very ambitious target in the current economic climate. And 250,000 additional work experience placements for young people may also be unrealistic."
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