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Government youth programme not enough to tackle unemployment


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According to MPs, the government’s youth programme is not enough to tackle unemployment amongst the young.

Statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show more than one million young people in the UK are jobless at present, the highest since records began in 1992.

Politicians are concerned about the affect this will have on young people, arguing that teenagers will be “sucked into a vortex” of life without work. This is a fear shared by those about to commence university in the next few weeks, who face dwindling job prospects post-graduation.

Similarly, post-graduate students are facing bleak prospects in the current economic downturn, with many graduates reporting that they are being exploited by employers to work for free through internships, aware that it is a way to gain a place in the austere job market. 

The Youth Contract provides one billion pounds for schemes up until 2015, aimed at getting young people into work. The Work and Pensions Select Committee have stated that the contract has progressed but acknowledge there is a long way to go to tackle the high level of youth unemployment.

However, are these figures a case of excessive hyperbole, intended to shame the Tory government into action? The youth programme does offer some advantages, creating 430,000 work opportunities over the upcoming three years. Dame Anne Begg, chair of the committee, praised the programme for creating a scheme targeted at 16 and 17 year olds who are not in education, employment or training and are unable to gain support from Job Centre Plus as they are ineligible to claim Jobseekers Allowance. Additionally, it means thousands of young people have already benefited from measures in the Youth Contract and over the next three years the package will give hundreds of thousands more the chance to earn or learn.

However, the youth programme alone is not going to solely tackle youth unemployment. The government ought to widen its criteria for the scheme as it only allows 16 and 17 year olds with no GCSEs to partake in it, yet there are many young people who have few GCSEs and face barriers in the working world.

Additionally, money needs to be spent to recruit disabled people and ethnic minorities. Critics of the government have argued that policies are pushing youth unemployment to record highs, with Labour MP Liam Byrne, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, critcising the way the government has handled youth unemployment. Byrne argues that that the government’s plan for youth jobs is "failing and needs to change course fast."

Unemployment of young people can be debilitating and leads to psychological disorientation and disturbs young people’s perceptions of their self-identity. There is arguably a correlation between unemployment and riots such as the London riots in August 2011, which correlated the link between economic hardship and rioting. 

Youth unemployment could become a thing of the past if the government realise that the way to combat this escalating problem is to introduce apprenticeships, encourage young people to gain work experience and develop skills. However, the Conservatives’ inability to understand the problems of the common man and their refusal to introduce new plans for jobs and growth suggest that this problem will be far more difficult to combat whilst they are still in power. Unless the Tory government addresses these problems and introduce a programme to get young people back in work, Britain’s young people face a bleak future.

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