Commenting on the speech made by the Deputy Prime Minister on youth unemployment today, Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“Despite a recent fall in youth unemployment, employers remain deeply concerned about the number of young people unable to find work. Businesses want to hire young people, but economic uncertainty, combined with poor skills and a lack of experience, often makes it too risky. “The Youth Contract is a good short-term solution to reduce these risks, but we have in the past argued for a wider reach and a bigger budget. The Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement is a good first step that will help more employers create opportunities for young people in areas worst affected by unemployment.
“The government could go further though, and remove the restrictions that prevent small firms with experience of hiring apprentices to benefit from grants that could encourage them to take on additional apprentices. There must also be a focus on creating a simpler offer for employers. Businesses are confused by the large number of employment initiatives with similar names and differing criteria, which are regularly launched by different departments, agencies and local authorities.
“Furthermore, the Department for Business and Department for Education must work together to reduce long-term structural youth unemployment. Future generations should leave formal education with the skills and experience to break into the workforce and remain in employment, making them less vulnerable in a challenging economic environment.”