Commenting on the announcement of the youth contract announced by the Deputy Prime Minister today (Friday), Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“Youth unemployment is a huge challenge, and this package aimed at tackling the problem of record levels of young people out of work is welcome.

“Our research tells us that employers lack confidence in the education system. In a recent survey of over 6,000 businesses, only 29% felt very or fairly confident in recruiting school leavers with A-levels or equivalent. Many companies are working hard to invest in young people in their local areas, but too often we hear that they are ill-equipped for the workplace.

“The government has to make it easier for businesses to hire young people. Employers often spend a large amount of time and money training up those young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs). The proposal to pay employers half of the minimum wage payment for the first six months will help businesses offset this cost.

“The government is right to include tough sanctions for those young people who do not fulfill their contract. Employers do not want to employ young people, train them up, and then find they leave without good reason. Businesses are ready to do their bit, and the Youth Contract will help provide a much-needed jobs boost for the young. But the government must also look at how the education system can match the needs of business, and so the supply of vacancies available to young people. Job Centre Plus must also play its part in matching young jobseekers to firms.”