Wednesday 16 September 2009

Getting Young People back to Work

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


Unknown said...

1) There is a recession going on and we are in lots of debt. To invest yet more huge sums of money to expand university places would seem a little bizarre, when it's hardly a secret that huge numbers of graduates are unable to find a job at all, or else end up in employment that does not justify/require having studied for a degree in the firstplace. I think you're putting the cart before the horse on this one.

2)I actually think this is a good idea, though it does somewhat backhandedly accept the notion that the minimum wage can occasionally be bar to employment, especially for smaller companies, and the government needs to compensate accordingly. Whilst I wouldn't necessarily wholly accept this (because the individual needs a living wage, and the minimum wage doesn't even achieve that) it nonetheless is a useful demonstration of the consequences it can have on business and employment.

3) I'm not too sure what it is that you mean here, though I will say that you must be careful on the whole horse and cart thing - education isn't a sort of purgatory for youngsters to hang out whilst the adults sort out the economy and make lots of lovely new opportunities for them. Rebuilding the economy absolutely requires the energy and innovation of younger people, and keeping them out of the productive sector, insulated from its growth and renewal, would seem a bit of a waste.

Anonymous said...

Unusually similar to the Lib Dem proposals that were announced earlier - very unusual for a hardened Labour hack like Mr Streeting.