DAVID Cameron and Nick Clegg recently announced a package of measures designed to increase the number of young people entering employment.
When we came to power, youth unemployment was at record levels and still almost 670,000 youngsters are unemployed or not in full-time education. Readers may well come across politicians and commentators referring to such people as NEETS – that is, ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’.
We felt it was imperative that we sought to understand exactly what barriers exist which prevent young people from seeking and securing a job or, indeed, embarking upon a career of their choice.
Although this is not something that is directly in my remit as Minister for the Cabinet Office and is being led by my colleagues from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Education Department, it is something that I take a very active interest in as local MP.
I’ve visited agencies that operate locally and specialise in getting people – young and old – into work and my House of Commons team is in close touch with the local JobCentre Plus District Office. I also meet young people who are searching for work – and often their parents – at my local advice surgeries.
It’s useful to hear their experiences which I can pass on to my colleagues and I have, on occasion, been able to help them move towards their goal of securing a first job.
That’s why I was so pleased when I learnt of the full details of our package of measures, which include:
An additional £60m commitment to help vulnerable youngsters.
Measures to help young people into apprenticeships across the private sector and within the Government Estate – including cutting bureaucracy so companies want to get involved.
A new £10m per annum Innovation Fund to give delivery organisations, in particular, the voluntary and community sector, a chance to develop innovative solutions to help disadvantaged people.
The establishment of new sector-based work academies which will enable people on benefits to undertake six weeks of training and work experience, followed by a guaranteed job interview.
We’re lucky to live and work in the Horsham area, where unemployment, compared to other parts of the country, is relatively low but it does exist and it affects families in all our local communities. If these measures help even a handful of local youngsters gain employment, instead of embarking on a life of unemployment and benefit claims, it won’t only help them and their families but our local and national economies too.
MP for Horsham