Press release

Government vows to get the young into work

A £60 million commitment to get more vulnerable young people into work, a boost to Apprenticeships and radical reforms to transform vocational education are part of a series of measures outlined by the Government today to prioritise youth employment, and tackle some of the long term structural barriers that stop some young people from getting a job and starting their career. Download: [Supporting youth employment](

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It comes as over 100 large companies and tens of thousands of small companies around the country have responded to the Government’s call and pledged to offer work experience places.

In total the Government will provide funding for up to 250,000 more Apprenticeships over the next four years, and funding for 100,000 work placements over the next two years.

The nature and extent of the deep rooted youth unemployment problem in the UK, and the Government’s priorities in this area are set out in the paper to be published today “Supporting Youth Employment”.

Although the majority of young adults are either in work or in education, there are still almost 670,000 young people unemployed and not in full time study. The measures outlined in the paper are designed to ensure that young people have the opportunity to get work to support economic growth, to advance their career prospects and encourage social mobility and help fill some of the 500,000 vacancies currently in the job market.

To support the most vulnerable young people the Government will invest £60 million over the next three years and commit it to:

  • provide more early access Work Programme places to vulnerable 18 year olds who are likely to be struggling to make the transition from education to work;
  • increase the capacity of Jobcentre Plus to support 16 and 17 year olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) to get them back into education, employment or training. This will include additional support to the 5,000 most disadvantaged 16-17 year olds claiming Jobseekers Allowance; including access to Work Experience and Work Clubs, and,
  • a new £10m per annum Innovation Fund to give delivery organisations, in particular the voluntary and community sector, a real chance to develop innovative solutions to help disadvantaged people particularly young people who are NEET.

The Government is also announcing a wide-ranging package to ensure that young people have the skills needed to compete in the global economy through a range of measures to improve and support vocational training. These include:

  • A significant reduction in bureaucracy around Apprenticeships to encourage take-up, by cutting the amount of data collection and audit, piloting an outcome-based payments system for large employers with direct contracts to provide both on- and off-the-job training. This will be piloted by BT, TUI and McDonalds;
  • Introducing a new Access to Apprenticeships pathway within the Apprenticeships programme that will benefit up to 10,000 vulnerable young people, helping those who are committed to pursing an Apprenticeship but who cannot immediately find an employer to take them on as they lack the skills or experience;
  • Launching this August sector-based work academies giving people on benefits the opportunity to spend up to six weeks undertaking training and work experience, followed by a guaranteed job interview. The first academy will focus on the hospitality and retail sector. This is a locally driven initiative so final numbers will depend on the level of take up by employers, training providers and claimants. Jobcentre Plus is funded to provide support for up to 50,000 places over the next 2 years; and
  • Publishing the Government’s response to the Wolf review of vocational learning. The Government is accepting the recommendations of the review, including proposals to ensure all young people study Maths and English to age 19 until they get a good qualification in those subjects.

We also welcome initiatives led by the private and voluntary sectors to inspire young people. For example is an emerging web-based platform that will bring together into one place the full range of organisations who work with young people to inspire them about their future.  This is still at an early stage and we encourage everyone who works to inspire young people to get involved.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

This is about more than getting our economy back on track. It’s about more than improving the jobless numbers. It’s about changing people’s lives. Showing our young people we believe in them and backing that faith with action.

It’s time to reverse the trend of rising youth unemployment that has held back our country for far too long and help our young people get the jobs on which their future - and ours - depends.

But government can’t act alone. We need employers who are prepared to give young people a go. So I’m delighted that over 100 large companies and tens of thousands of small and medium sized enterprises have already responded to our call for work experience placements so that tens of thousands of young people can take those vital first steps in experiencing the world of work.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

Too often in the past during tough times we have seen young people left behind or neglected. Youth unemployment means young men and women, who should be experiencing the most exciting time of their life, losing their confidence and wasting their talents.

We all have a responsibility; government, business, charities, education providers - to work together to find a solution. Our young people have enormous potential and enthusiasm. We have to do whatever we can to help them aspire to be happy and successful, and look to the future with hope.

That is why I am delighted today to be announcing so many real opportunities. A record number of apprenticeships to give young people a solid career grounding and much wider access to apprenticeships for young people from different backgrounds.

We talk a lot about the future - about economic recovery and restoring prosperity. But we will have failed if we do not give all young people the chance to benefit and prosper.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:

This package of measures will address the scandal of the highest level of youth unemployment the UK has seen in modern times. The key to tackling this is to give young people experience in work through placements, apprenticeships and guaranteed training.

Alongside it will be the Work Programme. Where young people who are unemployed will be given the intensive support and help they need to take up that job opportunity when it becomes available. The only route to a sustained reduction in poverty is through helping young people into work, not leaving them to a life on benefits.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Providing young people with every opportunity to gain skills is vital for fuelling economic growth and fostering social mobility. Reducing bureaucracy for businesses that want to take on Apprentices is one more way we are helping our young people to achieve their potential and be part of the skilled workforce of the future.” 

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

Tackling youth unemployment is one of the Government’s top priorities. We’ve lined up thousands of employers to provide work experience places for young unemployed people. We’ve launched tens of thousands of new apprenticeships. And now our new sector based work academies will offer a new dimension to the support on offer by combining real training, work experience and a guaranteed interview which will give young people another platform to get into a job. We’re determined to make sure our young people have a brighter future.

Skills Minister John Hayes said:

The Government is delivering at least 250,000 more Apprenticeships over the next 4 years. We are committed to improving the Apprenticeship programme, expanding it to give more young people the skills to drive growth, building a vocational pathway to prosperity. Our new Access to Apprenticeship scheme will help up to 10,000 unemployed young people gain new skills, secure Apprenticeships and make a better future for themselves and Britain.

The Government’s five priorities for action for supporting youth employment, and tackling some of the long term structural problems are to:

  • raise attainment and ensuring young people have the skills they need to compete in a global economy, including through quality vocational education and training; 
    help young people at risk of falling through the net, through supporting local partners in providing effective, coordinated services;
  • encourage employers in both the public and private sector to offer more work experience, Apprenticeship and internship opportunities to more young people;
  • promote personal responsibility by ensuring work pays and that all those on out-of-work benefits who can work engage in more intensive job-search; and
  • create the wider conditions for balanced, sustainable growth, including through protecting and extending the flexibilities of the UK labour market;

The Government is supporting jobseekers through allowing them to undertake work experience for up to eight weeks while still claiming out-of-work benefits. This started in January and has been extended nationally to all 18-24 year olds. From October 2011 an extension of 12 weeks work experience will be available where an employer is willing to offer an Apprenticeship to the young person.

Companies offering these work experience places and Apprenticeships include Serco who are committed to provide 1000 new work experience places for young people and 500 apprenticeships in 2011 across the UK; Tesco who are committing 3000 work experience places; and, KFC who are looking to provide 3,000 to 5,000 Apprenticeships a year at every level across the business. Other companies supporting this include IBM, Wates, ASDA, Park Resorts, Siemens, Orange, McDonalds, Marks and Spencer, Arcadia and BT.

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are writing to FTSE 100 companies, and a number of major privately owned companies, and major multinationals listed abroad but operating in the UK calling on them to play their part and take more action to support youth employment, in particular through further support for the Apprenticeship scheme.

Notes to editors

  1. The Wolf review of vocational learning will result in a higher quality system of learning for 14-18 year olds and help to address the long-term weaknesses in practical learning.
  2. The number who are unemployed and not in full time education stands at nearly 670,000, or 9% of the cohort. This compares with 12% after the 1990s recession. The rate that includes those in full time education and is expressed as a proportion of the active labour force rather than the total cohort is higher than this, at 20%. 
  3. In addition to the reforms outlined above the Government has already announced a range of policies that will promote youth employment. For example: * The fiscal consolidation measures which provide a foundation for growth * The growth review measures announced alongside Budget 2011, including the retail and construction sector reviews which will help promote youth employment given the high proportions of young people employed in them; * The range of measures the Government has announced to improve skills, including increasing the school leaving age to 18 by 2015 * The Universal Credit measures to make work pay and reduce welfare dependency; and * The new Work Programme will be launched from the summer of 2011 to support people into work. It will be delivered by the best of the private, public and voluntary sector. Providers will be free to design support based on the needs of individuals. The programme will give priority to young people by ensuring all young people receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance for nine months will receive access to this programme
  4. Many businesses and charities are also involved in a wide range of initiatives to inspire young people about their future.  For example, Inspiring the Future is a programme led by the Employers and Education Taskforce that aims to get 100,000 people from all sectors and professions into schools and colleges to talk about their jobs and career routes.  In addition, ‘’ is a new, independent and charity sector led initiative that will try to make it easier to find and access the many organizations that aim to inspire young people.  The initiative has support from a variety of organizations, such as The Princes Trust, Work Inspiration, The Media Trust, WorldWide Volunteering, Microsoft and Facebook.  It is still at an early stage, and is currently focused on bringing together all interested stakeholders to help shape the initiative for a launch later in the summer.
Published 12 May 2011