By Marcus Leach

George Osborne set out several key changes to employment in the Autumn Statement today (Tuesday), with a clear focus on youth unemployment.

Chief amongst those changes was the unveiling of a £1 billion youth contract that will subsidise six month work placements for 410,000 young people in a bid to get youth unemployment figures down.

“We welcome the package of measures to support employers to hire young people and provide them with additional jobs related skills and an experience of the working world," Katerina Rüdiger, skills adviser at the The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said.

"Research consistently shows the biggest obstacle young people have faced in getting employers to hire them is a perceived lack of experience. This becomes an unbreakable cycle for too many young people — with no experience, meaning no job, meaning no experience.

"Many employers are reluctant to employ young people as they think they are less productive, however all the evidence suggests a big difference in employer attitudes to young people between those who have actually employed them, against those who are rely on commonly held perceptions and prejudice.

"On that basis, if the youth contract is successful in widening the pool of employers who have recent experience of employing young workers, it will encourage more employers to take a more long-term approach to grow their own workforce, and future young people will benefit from the positive contributions made by this subsidised cohort of young people.

“We need more employers to be more proactive and ambitious when it comes to work-based training — such as apprenticeships — for young people, and to engage more in skills development. The proposal of greater employer ownership of the skills system and greater transparency, with funding going directly to employers, will help to improve the job relevance and quality of training delivered, and also to reduce the complexity of the system.”

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