£1bn scheme to aid youth employment

Job postings boardNick Clegg is set to pledge to create hundreds of thousands of work placements for young people in the face of record levels of youth unemployment.

The Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats is to announce the creation of a £1 billion Youth Contract aimed at helping jobless young people get back into work or education.
The move comes the day after official figures revealed that a record 1,163,000 16 to 24-year-olds were "NEET" (not in education, employment or training) in the third quarter of this year.

The number of people in this age group who are looking for work also increased by 67,000 in the quarter to September to 1.02 million, the worst total since comparable records began in 1992.
Mr Clegg will announce that under the Youth Contract, from next April, over a three-year period at least 410,000 work places will be found for 18 to 24-year-olds.

This includes wage subsidies worth £2,275 handed to employers to take on 160,000 18 to 24-year-olds. Each of these "wage incentives" are worth half of the youth national minimum wage and last for six months.

They will be available for those youngsters that need the most help after three months, and all of those who have been on jobseeker's allowance (JSA) for nine months.

Mr Clegg will also say that the contract will offer a work experience placement of up to eight weeks for every unemployed 18 to 24-year-old that wants one.

He will warn that young people who fail to sign up to the Youth Contract will be considered for "mandatory work activity" while those that drop out of work experience or jobs without good reason will lose their benefits.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "With a million young people out of work, a quarter of them for over a year, any significant moves to help them are long overdue. It may be late, but the TUC welcomes elements of the plans being announced, but the massive expansion of the work experience scheme is much less positive, unfortunately."
© 2011 Press Association
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