The Government’s New Deal programme has hit its target of helping 250,000 young people off welfare and into work , the equivalent of 2,000 into jobs every week since the programme started in April 1998.
The target is one of the Government’s five key manifesto pledges, and signals a significant milestone in its employment policy with youth unemployment now standing at its lowest level since the mid seventies.
Announcing the achievement today with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor at 10 Downing Street, Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett said:
“This Government made a promise to cut youth unemployment within this Parliament and we’ve kept it. Ahead of time, we have delivered on our target to get 250,000 young people off welfare and into work.
“New Deal for Young People tackles the waste of youth unemployment, it turns our wasted youth into working youth. New Deal is different from any employment programme in the past because it is individually-tailored and provides sustained investment in young people’s skills. And the involvement of employers, over 80,000 of them, has been crucial in helping New Deal respond to business needs and ensure we help young people gain the skills that will give them a future.
“New Deal links social justice to economic growth leading to more tax revenue, greater economic activity and lower benefit payments. An expanded and skilled labour force will help us maintain our sustained growth and low unemployment without a return to inflation.
“We are not complacent. Unemployment is still too high in some areas and we still need to help more people move into jobs. That is why we have put New Deal on a permanent footing so that it will continue in the next Parliament. And that’s why we’re looking to develop New Deal further. We want:
- more flexibility,
- more focus on the individual
- more focus on the employer.
- more help for those people who are blocked from work because of the disadvantages they experience.
“We want New Deal to help people of working age who are without work get the chance of personal responsibility and self-reliance.
“New Deal is about changing the culture – a something for something approach which is a fair deal for the taxpayer and fair to the hundreds of thousands of New Dealers who keep their side of the bargain.”
Employment Minister Tessa Jowell said:
“The dedication of New Deal personal advisers, the support of employers and the talents of New Dealers themselves have helped us reach our manifesto target. Personal advisers have gone to any lengths to help young people. They have used their own creativity and young people’s potential to help them fulfil their ambitions. For some, it’s the simple things like a suit for an interview or a bike to get to work. For others it’s help for their Internet start-up company or their first music contract or even to become a James Bond look-alike!
“In all, the New Deal has helped 254,000 young people into all kinds of jobs and over 163,000 get training or job experience they need to secure their future employment.”
Young people leave New Deal for a variety of jobs ranging from chefs to class-room assistants. These include:
- 12,000 more bricklayers, plasterers, and other construction workers
- 8,700 more sales people
- 12,800 more clerical officers, administrators and managers
- 1,000 more working in the health service
David Blunkett added:
“New Deal is continuously improving with emphasis on flexibility and testing new approaches, and this goes more widely than just New Deal. We are learning from the experiences of the American Wildcat Services Corporation and Employment Zones here are producing good results.”
Further changes highlighted by Mr Blunkett include:
- Targeting more help to the 150,000 people aged 25 and over who have been unemployed for 18 months or more by improving the New Deal 25 plus from April 2001, with extra attention to basic skills deficiencies
- An extra #23m is being made available to extend New Deal for Lone Parents to include an additional 150,000 lone parents
- Extending New Deal for Partners of Unemployed People next year. This currently helps partners of jobseekers back to work but will be extended next year to partners of people receiving other benefits
- Promoting dynamic labour markets at a regional and local level