Press release

Business leaders back Youth Contract

Nick Clegg: "Every employer, from global corporations to small local firms, can get involved."

The pillars of British business are formally backing the government’s flagship programme to ensure every young person is either earning or learning through the Youth Contract, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will announce today.

At a roundtable discussion with business leaders the Deputy Prime Minister will welcome the support from Britain’s four biggest employer organisations, The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), who will also urge their members to back the initiative.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Employment Minister Chris Grayling will also be meeting with senior representatives from some of the UK’s top businesses including Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, BT and Asda, to hear from them about how they offer young people work, training and apprenticeships in their organisations and discuss the Youth Contract.

The Deputy Prime Minister will also launch a new website - dwp.gov.uk/youth-contract - for employers across Britain to sign up to the Youth Contract.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

Supporting people into work is my priority for 2012 and helping young people get proper lasting jobs is especially important.

The Youth Contract will make sure every unemployed young person starts earning or learning again before long term damage is done.

But government can’t do this alone, we need businesses to play their part too. That’s why the support of the Confederation of British Industry, British Chambers of Commerce, British Retail Consortium and Federation of Small Businesses is such good news.

Every employer, from global corporations to small local firms, can get involved. They can register their interest at the new Youth Contract website for businesses dwp.gov.uk/youth-contract.

Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said:

Businesses are vital for us to get our support for young people right. With their input we can ensure young people gain the experience and the training to gain sustainable employment.

We appreciate that there are still tough times ahead in the economy but we want businesses to make a commitment to our young people. Today is the first in a series of discussions we will be undertaking with leading employers, businesses, welfare to work industry and the voluntary sector.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:

The Youth Contract is good news for young people up and down the country. It will encourage firms to give a young inexperienced person a chance so that the scourge of youth unemployment can be tackled.

We sincerely hope that employers of all sizes looking to hire staff will see the Youth Contract as a real incentive to invest in our young people.

Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

Youth unemployment is a huge challenge for Government and business alike. Firms up and down the country are concerned about the record numbers of young people currently out of work, and tell us they are ready to do their bit.

That’s why we warmly welcome the Youth Contract, which will help growing businesses offer more young people real jobs and work experience. We will work closely with the Government to ensure that these initiatives help to overcome the obstacles that stop young people and potential employers from connecting.

Director General of the British Retail Consortium, Stephen Robertson, said:

Nearly a million young people are employed by retailers in the UK and they’re keen to take on even more. The sector employs a quarter of all 20 to 24 year olds who are in work and the proportions are even higher for teenagers. Retail also has an excellent record on staff development and is one of the highest spending sectors on training per employee.

The Government’s focus on helping young people into work and training has the potential to make a real and very welcome contribution to reducing youth unemployment. There needs to be an accompanying set of initiatives to drive growth which will help create new jobs for people of all ages.

Mike Cherry, Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

Youth unemployment continues to be a major problem and so we welcome the Government’s Youth Contract initiative. Small businesses want to create jobs but need help overcoming the risks associated with taking on staff, especially in the current climate. We also need to see enterprise education in schools and colleges so that young people are given the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the world of work.

The £1billion Youth Contract was launched by the Deputy Prime Minister in November last year. From April 2012 it will provide nearly half-a-million new opportunities for young people, including apprenticeships and work experience placements as well as cash payments to encourage employers to recruit young people.

Notes to editors

  1. The following businesses and organisations are attending today’s roundtable:

Asda Stores Ltd
BAM Nuttall Ltd
Brakes Group
British Retail Consortium
BT          
Clear Channel UK Limited
Greggs Plc
Hilton Hotels
Hewlett-Packard UK & Ireland
Intercontinental Hotels Group
John Lewis Partnership
Logica Plc
Marks and Spencer Plc
Pinnacle PSG Ltd
Travelodge Hotels Ltd
CBI
BCC
Road Haulage Association
Employment and Related Services Association
Talkback Thames
FSB
The Skills Place Newham, Westfield

2. The Deputy Prime Minister will today meet students, staff and graduates of The Skills Place, Westfield Stratford City. For more information about The Skills Place contact James Fanthorpe 01702 201070. For more information about Westfield Stratford contact Samantha Sifah 0208 221 7424.

3. The Deputy Prime Minister announced the Youth Contract on 25 November 2011.

Key measures include:

  • Cash payments to encourage employers to recruit young people.
  • An extra 250,000 Work Experience places over the next three years, taking the total to at least 100,000 a year.
  • At least 20,000 extra incentive payments worth £1,500 each for employers to take on young people as apprentices, taking the total number of payments available to 40,000 next year.
  • Extra support through Jobcentre Plus in the form of weekly, rather than fortnightly, signing-on meetings, more time to talk to an adviser and a National Careers Service interview.

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