The young unemployed need extra support

FEATURED in the media lately was a bright young woman who had just left university eager to climb the career ladder.

Frustratingly, a lack of workplace experience made her a virtual untouchable for any employer she approached. A catch-22 situation if ever there was one or, to use her own ironic turn of phrase, ‘the first rung on the ladder was missing’.

Ranked 598th out of 650 constituencies for the number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA in October 2011, Horsham would seem to be bucking the national youth unemployment trend. But there’s no room for complacency.

The first research to hear directly from young people about the August riots has just been published by the Cabinet Office. This independent report examines the motivations of those involved, many in areas characterised by high unemployment where young people knew getting a job was difficult, but still aspired to work.The attitudes of young people are critical.

That’s why I attach such importance to the National Citizen Service (NCS) pilots that we have run this summer across the country.

NCS is about throwing together young people from different backgrounds and challenging them with new experiences.

They are then encouraged to work together in setting up a social action project to make a positive difference to their communities. I had the pleasure of awarding certificates to local NCS graduates at an event hosted by the Y Centre recently. More on this later.

Horsham District Council is always looking for volunteers to help with different activities – and it can sometimes help bridge the gap between full-time education and paid employment.

But apprenticeships are the key to building the skills of the workforce and provide opportunities for young people who do not wish to take the university route.

Provisional data for the full 2010/11 academic year shows that apprenticeship starts increased by over 50 per cent.

The majority of this growth has been in advanced – ‘A’ level equivalent – apprenticeships, demonstrating our commitment to a high quality vocational route to the skills British business needs to compete.

But we must do more. Because young unemployed need extra support to make the grade of a full apprenticeship, we’ve introduced a new Access to Apprenticeships programme that will provide 10,000 such opportunities - including work experience and help with basic skills - every year.

To build social mobility and feed economic growth we will make it easier for employers to take on apprentices, enabling many thousands more young Britons find their way to successful and productive careers.


MP for Horsham and

Cabinet Office Minister