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.”


Notes to editors:

Read the full speech here.

In our Budget submission, the BCC called on the government to allow Jobcentre Plus to have the flexibility to refer a greater number of young people to the Work Programme before they have been on Job Seekers Allowance for nine months, enabling incentives to be better targeted at candidates who are a good fit for a hiring business.

Apprenticeship Grant for Employers for 16 to 24 year-olds (AGE 16-24)

The Youth Contract included at least 20,000 extra incentive payments worth £1,500 each for employers to take on young people as apprentices, taking the total number of payments available to 40,000 next year. The grants are available to SMEs wanting to take on up to three new apprentices, but firms that have employed an apprentice since April 2009 are not eligible. More information can be found here.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is the national voice of local business.

The BCC sits at the heart of a powerful nationwide network of Accredited Chambers of Commerce, serving over 100,000 businesses across the UK, which employ over five million people. For more information visit: www.britishchambers.org.uk

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