Flaws in Youth Contract could see young people ‘falling through the cracks’

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The government’s recently unveiled Youth Contract could fall short of its aim of increasing the workplace inclusion of young people due to flaws in the scheme, City & Guilds has warned.

According to the exam board, the complexity of the programme and the number of agencies involved in running it could lead to many people “falling through the cracks” of the system and having their workplace and social inclusion further damaged.

The £1 billion Youth Contract, launched by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in April, aims to provide those aged between 18 and 24 with greater employment, training and work experience opportunities through a variety of measures, including paying businesses to take on young workers.

However, it has already drawn criticism for overlapping with 33 other government funding schemes to help young people find employment.

Furthermore, the scheme is managed by local job centres, but is co-ordinated by four government departments – the Department for Work and Pensions; the Cabinet Office; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; and the Department for Education.

Submitting evidence to MPs, City & Guilds argued this could lead to significant problems in delivering the programme.

“It would be preferable for the Youth Contract to run though a single agency or department in order to minimise both bureaucracy and inefficiencies,” written evidence submitted by City & Guilds to the work and pensions select committee said.

“We appreciate that this may not be a simple matter to organise but feel that otherwise there is a serious danger of many young people ‘falling though the cracks’ and becoming further disengaged.”

The Department of Work and Pensions, however, argues that the number of bodies involved in the scheme can work to its advantage.

A spokesman for the department told the Telegraph: “The Youth Contract will get thousands of unemployed young people earning or learning.

“Sharing delivery across departments and agencies means we can tailor support to meet a young person’s needs, be it a 16-year-old out of education, a 23-year-old who has left university or a 19-year-old looking for an apprenticeship.”

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