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Cath Everett

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Work experience for young NEETs ‘blighting’ Britain

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Employment Minister Chris Grayling will unveil a programme aimed at extending work experience opportunities for young people today in a bid to tackle the “blight” of youth unemployment.

 

With unemployment rates among the under 25s now standing at around 20%, the Minister will reveal plans to extend the length of time that young unemployed people can undertake job-related work experience without seeing a cut in their benefits from two to eight weeks.

Under the scheme, young people between the ages of 18 and 21 will be matched by Jobcentre Plus with employers looking for work experience candidates, with the aim of giving them a “meaningful” stint in a business environment in order to improve their CV and references. Businesses that have already signed up to the initiative include Homebase, Hilton Hotels, McDonalds, De Vere Hotels, Carrilion, Coyle Personnel and Punch Taverns.

According to figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions today, 600,000 people between the ages of 16 and 24 have never worked since leaving school or further education. Moreover, more than 260,000 under 16s are also growing up in households where no one has ever experienced employment, leading to what has been described by Ministers as a ‘ticking time bomb’.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been highly critical of the government’s decision to end youth support schemes such as Future Jobs Fund as part of the coalition government’s programme of spending cuts.

But Grayling will seek to blame Labour for creating a generation of young people with no direct experience of employment. “Billions were squandered on the New Deal and Future Jobs Fund, which too often merely put the young in short-term, public sector jobs that were unsustainable” he will say. “Their failure to get young people into work will cost us dear in the long run as the next generation have to shoulder the burden, not only of the enormous debt left by Labour, but also lack the confidence to reach their potential.”

The government’s extended work experience offer, on the other hand, will give young people the change to obtain “valuable” experience in a business for up to two months, which would make “a real difference to their confidence, their employability and their prospects”, Grayling will add.

A recent survey undertaken by the High Flyers recruitment agency indicated that three out of five employers would only take on graduates who had had some work experience in the past.

2 Responses

  1. Work experience versus Future Jobs Fund
    I dont understand the logic of the argument that Future Jobs fund ‘too often merely put the young in short-term, public sector jobs that were unsustainable”.

    I currently work in the public sector and previously worked in the private sector for a welfare to work organisation and I have direct experience of Future Jobs fund. This initiative comprised of a six month period of employment within an organisation. In my public sector organisation. this opportunity also enabled the young people to access all the training available to permanent staff. Some of these young people did go onto secure jobs within the organisation following the placement and all who completed ( we had a high retention rate) left with skills, experience and a reference. They also got coaching on CV’s application forms and interview skills prior to leaving and access to a mentor.
    This wasnt always an easy option as working with young people can bring some specific challenges but it was rewarding in the main and occasionally frustrating.

    Surely six months worth of relevant and meaningful experience is more valuable than eight weeks?
    This has purely to do with cost and not to do with the best interests of the young people in my opinion.
    Future Jobs Fund was one of the best schemes I have seen.

  2. Work experience

     

    Work experience is a unique opportunity for young people to improve their CV and impress potential employers. It even works when it doesn’t work (!) as it can deter a young person from following a job that doesn’t suit and instead steer them towards a career that does.
     
    It is vital however that schools and other brokers place young people in the right environment. We at the Rathbone charity work with teenagers who have experienced problems at home or school and placing a young person with a busy retailer when they are already low on confidence could be damaging. It is also incumbent upon employers to make sure young people get a worthwhile taste of the workplace that helps them gain employability skills and doesn’t simply involve them performing menial tasks!
     
    Peter Gibson
    The Rathbone charity
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