Getting young people back into work – or into work for the first time – must surely be a priority for any government, to prevent a generation falling into the trap of long-term unemployment.
So a call by a committee of MPs for additional action to bridge the gap when the Future Jobs Fund ends in March would seem to deserve some attention.
The fund, created by the previous Labour government in 2009, is a £1 billion programme to create temporary employment for 18 to 24-year-olds.
The Department of Work and Pensions says that by the end of March 2011, bids for cash from the fund will have financed more than 100,000 jobs, mainly aimed at young people who have been out of work for six months and are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.
MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee have made a number of recommendations to the government after studying its plan to bring the scheme to an early close, ahead of the introduction of the new Work Programme next June.
Committee chair Anne Begg says: "Young people, especially those who may be lacking skills, experience and confidence, need appropriate and sometimes intensive support to find work, otherwise they risk falling into long-term unemployment.”
No-one is going to argue with that and the Department of Work and Pensions says there will be transitional support available in the run-up to the introduction of the Work Programme. The government is also planning to make £150 million available to fund new apprenticeship places, focused on small and medium-sized enterprises.
None of us can take having a job for granted these days. But for many young people today, who should now be starting out on a productive working life of 40 years or more, getting a foot on the career ladder must seem almost impossible. And they deserve all the help we can give them.
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