Report finds youth employment schemes ‘inadequate’

There are three times as many young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) as there are apprenticeship placements for under-25s, a report revealed today.

The statistics were released in the same week as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced a review of the options available to 16 to 25 year olds in the UK, including his own £1bn Youth Contract scheme launched in November 2011.

Mr Clegg announced the review in a speech at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) president’s dinner on Monday, but made no reference to the government’s traineeship scheme due to begin from August 1, a new framework for which has been announced today.

Kayte Lawton, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research which conducted the report, said: “The Youth Contract has not been an adequate replacement for the Future Jobs Fund and youth unemployment remains a major concern.”

The report showed that one in seven under-25s was classed as NEET, totaling more than a million young people, and called for the government to make employment be the central focus of UK economic policy, targeting an employment rate of 80 per cent.

Ms Lawton added: “For many years, policy has focused on improving individuals’ skills and employability, often with impressive results.

“But if we are to pursue and achieve an employment rate that competes with the best in the world, we will need a more assertive approach to putting job creation and boosting the demand for labour at the centre of our economic and social policies.

“Many other European countries have an employment rate of 80 per cent, so this is not a ‘pie in the sky’ aspiration.”

In his speech, Mr Clegg acknowledged that the “average school leaver” was probably unaware of which government departments and schemes were there to help them.

“Right now it’s too easy for those young people who don’t think university is right for them to get lost in the maze of different employment and skills programmes available and never find the advice, support and options they need,” he said.

The comprehensive government review, he said, would be carried out over the summer by the cabinet office and report to him and the Prime Minister in the autumn.

He added: “What we want is a simpler, easier to use system that lays down a clear route ahead into work for our young people and gives businesses a coherent offer to find the workers they need.”

The Youth Contract programme comprises £1bn worth of delivery over three years, spread across three government departments.

The Department for Work and Pensions fund work experience placements, work incentives and support from Job Centre Plus advisers for unemployed 18 to 24 year olds, while the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills subsidies small businesses taking on 18 to 24 year olds.

A Department for Education spokesperson said their contribution was £126 million for 16 to 17 year olds between 2011 and 2015, “incentivizing organisations to re-engage young people in training or employment.”