Jobcentre Plus to help 16 and 17-year-olds, Deputy Prime Minister to announce

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is today expected to announce a raft of measures to help young people get into work, including allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to get advice from Jobcentre Plus centres.

In a speech at Southfields Academy in London, Mr Clegg is also due to promise to “ramp up” the requirement on schools to provide careers advice.

Further, he will say young jobseekers would be provided with work experience, and those without level two maths and English would be required to train as soon as they sign on for Jobseekers Allowance.

The speech comes with the release later today of the latest government statistics on young people not in education, employment or training (Neet). The last release, showing figures for July to September last year, put the number of 16 to 24-year-old Neets at 1.066 million, up from 1.038 million in the same period the previous year.

Mr Clegg is expected to say: “Too many young people aren’t getting what they need. In a recent survey, Ofsted found only one-in-five schools were giving all their students detailed careers support.

“And, for a lot of the young people I meet, careers guidance currently feels like a tick box exercise squeezed into lunchtime break with a busy teacher, who no doubt already has a lot on their plate.

“So, we are issuing new guidance for schools in the next few weeks that will set out just what good careers advice should look like — and not take-it-or-leave-it guidance.”

He is also due to say that Ofsted will “look more closely” at the quality of careers advice offered by schools during inspections.

“Right now, if you’re 16 or 17, and looking for work, you can’t go to your local Job Centre for advice about how to find a job,” the Lib Dem leader is expected to add.

“The rules say that you can only go to Jobcentre Plus at 18 or above. That just seems wrong.”

He will say that the government should be “getting in there early” to provide support.

“So I’m pleased to announce that government will now be testing a new approach in selected Job Centres across Britain,” Mr Clegg is to say, announcing a pilot of the scheme in Lewisham.

“This, for the first time, will give 16 and 17-year-olds access to personalised jobs advice and support through Jobcentre Plus.”

He will also announce a series of pilots, starting in the autumn in Kent, Mercia, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, for 18 to 21-year-olds, who will be required to prove they have level two maths and English qualifications.

“If they don’t, their adviser will get them on that training immediately to ensure that if you’re not earning, you’re still learning,” he will say.

“If you don’t do this training, you won’t get your Jobseekers Allowance.

“And critically, if you find a job, this training won’t just stop. You’ll be able to carry on with it, until you get the skills you need.”

He will also explain measures, from this autumn and piloted in Kent, for 18 to 21-year-olds who have been out of work for six months.

“After six months out of work, your adviser will also help you get a work placement,” Mr Clegg will say.

“This is so you can get first-hand experience of being in a workplace, as well as help build your confidence and develop more of the skills prospective employers want.

“If these pilots are successful, I want to see them rolled out across the country: putting earn or learn at the heart of the support we give you.”

He will conclude: “We want every young person to be able to follow their chosen path. This is my commitment to you — to do whatever we can to ensure you get an equal shot at the life you want.”