Guest post by Wes Streeting
At the TUC on Tuesday the Prime Minister outlined steps this government has taken to tackle the scourge of youth unemployment, estimated at over a million. There can be no doubt that this government, unlike the Tories in the 80's and 90's, has taken real action to protect the most vulnerable in this recession. But there is much more that could be done - and must be done - to prevent the young generation becoming a lost generation.
First, the government needs to urgently expand and fund the number of college and university places to meet demand. This year, the September guarantee has ensured that every school leaver has a place guaranteed at college, but while David Lammy rightly points out that more people are going to university this year than ever before, that comes as small consolation to the 40,000 well qualified applicants who found the doors slammed in their faces because of a lack of funding. I've no doubt that those who've lost out are precisely those from non-traditional backgrounds.
Secondly, wage subsidies should be given to firms employing young workers alongside removing national insurance contributions entirely for the under 25's. This approach has been proposed by Professor David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee.
Thirdly, raising the education and training age should be brought forward immediately. Investing in education, skills and training will help young people weather the stormy weather until the green shoots of recovery branch out to touch people's jobs and pockets.
These proposals are sensible, targeted and supported by experts. This government, the government that funded the New Deal for young people, should know better than anyone that the short term investment needed outweights the long-term cost of the scars caused by youth unemployment.
Wes Streeting is the president of the National Union of Students