Today's publication of NEET statistics - young people not in education, employment or training makes - makes for grim reading. Compared with the same period last year, there are now 119,000 more 19-24 year olds out of education, work and training, representing a rise of 18 per cent. This is the biggest rise since records began in 2000.
This alongside statistics released last week on the increase in youth unemployment means that we are on the verge of losing a generation of young people, creating a difficult legacy for today's youth and society more widely.
A generation is being scarred whilst the Government relies on a range of apprenticeship and work experience programmes underpinned by strong private sector economic growth. This is a vulnerable strategy as tuition fees are increasing, over 180,000 young people are still waiting to find out if they will be going to university, apprenticeships are being scooped up by the over 25s, funding for colleges and skills training has been severely cut and EMA has been replaced by a bursary scheme. These mixed messages make it difficult to work out how the Government is tackling long-term youth unemployment.
Today's figures confirm that the Government is not doing enough to support young people. IPPR is calling for the called on the Government to introduce a job guarantee to be part of a new vision of a welfare state that offers protection to both the job seeker and to the state as guarantor. We argue that the guarantee should be focused on supporting those with the greatest labour market disadvantage, such as the long-term youth unemployed. Job guarantees pay at least the minimum wage, making them distinct from 'work for your benefit' type schemes or from training provision. Employers are often offered subsidies to provide jobs.
At the same time, there is reciprocity built into the design and implementation of job guarantees; the recipient must actively seek work; the state must provide a paid job if none is to be found and the individual must accept that offer or find an alternative. Given the lack of jobs growth in the economy at present, job guarantees can not only serve as employment opportunities for jobseekers, but also offer the potential to boost job creation. Through a job guarantee, the Future Jobs Fund - which was Labour's short-term response to rising levels of youth unemployment - offered over 100,000 young people a job in deprived communities. Today's figures show that this is more critical than ever.
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