Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will announce today Ã‚Â£1bn of new funding to help address youth unemployment. The initiative, to be called the “Youth Contract” will be spent over three years, and will provide opportunities including job subsidies, apprenticeships and work experience placements to 400,000 unemployed people. The scheme will be administered by DWP’s Work Programme Prime Contractors.
The Youth Contract programme will see wage subsidies worth Ã‚Â£2,275 offered to employers to take on 18 to 24 year olds. It will be available to all young people claiming JSA for at least 9 months. Participating employers will be expected to pay at least the minimum wage. Anyone rejecting a subsidised job offer will be required to undertake four weeks’ mandatory work activity. The programme will begin next April and aim to get young people into a range of employment sectors.
The investment will also fund a further 250,000 work experience places to be provided over the next three years, adding to the 50,000 places announced so far by the Government. The places will be offered to every 18 to 24 year-old after three months’ unemployment, but before they enter the Work Programme.
A further Ã‚Â£50m programme will target 16 and 17 year-olds who are not in education, employment or training. The scheme will focus on the 25,000 most disengaged young people in England.
Labour has already suggested that the new scheme is an effective re-working of its own Future Jobs Fund, previously scrapped by the Coalition. The Liberal Democrats have claimed that the scheme was different from the Future Jobs Fund since it will operate outside of the public sector and offers a smaller job subsidy.
Clegg said: “The aim of the Youth Contract is to get every unemployed young person working or learning again before long-term damage is done. This is a Ã‚Â£1bn package and what’s different about it is it gets young people into proper, lasting jobs in the private sector. But it’s a contract, a two-way street: if you sign up for the job, there’ll be no signing on for the dole. You have to stick with it. Youth unemployment is an economic waste and a slow-burn social disaster.”
The Youth Contract announcement comes a week after figures showed that youth unemployment had hit a record high in the three months to September, rising to 1.02 million.