Speeches sourced from the Labour party’s online archive More…

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to today’s Youth Contract statistics which show just 4,690 wage incentive payments have been made since the scheme began, said:

“The Youth Contract has utterly failed to get our young people back to work. This flagship scheme is on course to miss its target by more than 92 per cent - no wonder there are still almost a million young people out of work.

“The welfare revolution we were promised has fallen apart. The Work Programme doesn’t work, Universal Credit is disappearing into the sunset, and now we know that the Youth Contract has been a disaster.

“We urgently need welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works, starting with Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee to get anyone out of work for two years, or one year if they are under 25, into a real paying job – one they would be required to take or risk losing their benefits.”
To coincide with today’s disastrous Youth Contract figures, Liam Byrne and Stephen Twigg are today calling for a revolution in the way small businesses, schools and government get teenagers ready for work.

The report for Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce highlights:

•    Careers services are becoming ‘extinct’ for young people leaving young people without independent careers advice at a time when the world of work is changing
•    Schools find it tough to get young people ‘job ready’
•    Small business are the key jobs creator for many areas – but are  totally disconnected from schools. The Federation of Small Business estimate that around 9 out of every 10 people who move from labour inactivity to activity, move to a small or medium business1.
•    Government programmes like the Youth Contract and the Work Programme ‘are complex and ineffective’ for business, especially small businesses; the Recruitment and Employment Confederation found that not a single employer out of 200 respondents had used the Youth Contract.

Launching Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce Report ‘The Business Perspective’ Byrne added,

“This government’s failure has left a generation out work, destroyed the careers service and offered help that’s so useless that business says it’s ‘complex and ineffective’. We simply can’t go on like this. The system is broken and needs to change.”

“That’s why we need to learn some lessons from successful countries like Germany where small businesses and government experts, who know all about local jobs on offer, are giving teenagers advice on what it takes to land a job before young people take their options.”

To harness the power of small business the report suggests:

1.    Making small business the key to Britain’s youth employment strategy. We should revolutionise the way the apprenticeship system functions so that it works for SMEs. Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield are creating apprenticeship training agencies to make it easy for an SME to say ‘yes’ to a young apprentice.
2.    Exploring how small business, government and schools can come together to rebuild Britain’s careers service.  Labour pioneers like Manchester are piloting UCAS style clearing houses for apprenticeships to help small businesses find the recruits they need.
3.    Giving more access to job outcome data for schools – so parents can see how well local schools are preparing their children for the world of work.
4.    Increasing employer engagement in schools, for example by encouraging business people to sit on governing boards
5.    Ensuring that young people leave school with a plan for their future careers, whether that’s a university, apprenticeship or employment offer.

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