By Maximilian Clarke

Business Secretary Vince Cable this morning (Wednesday) announced a host of measures to strengthen the UK’s apprenticeships programme through slashing red tape and through cash incentive payments.

The news comes on the day that the Office for National Statistics confirmed youth unemployment has, for the first time in the UK’s history, crossed the symbolic 1 million mark, threatening a ‘lost generation’ of youths permanently excluded from the labour market, with devastating consequences for society and for the economy.

Commencing on Cable’s speech this morning, the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) Director of Skills and Education, Susan Anderson, welcomed the drive to stimulate the labour market:

“At a time of record high youth unemployment, the introduction of a £1,500 incentive payment to small companies which take on young people is welcome news, but this should go further to include employers of any size. We’re calling on the Government to introduce a Young Britain Credit which would encourage both small and medium-sized firms to recruit young Britons and support training of young people in larger firms.

“At the same time, the Government must reduce the bureaucracy around taking on these new employees, especially regarding audit, inspection and data collection, so that the incentive payment does not get eaten up by these costs.

“Young people who fail to reach a good level in English and maths by age 16 need a variety of fresh approaches to help them get there, including more practical literacy and numeracy training which could be supported by apprenticeships. We need to ensure they’re not subjected to more of the same when a school-based approach has failed in the past.”

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