23 May, 2022

Help for the ‘lost generation’

20 May, 2011

We may still have some way to go before industry in general is safely out of the economic mire. Nevertheless, there were certainly a few morsels of welcome news offered up last month when Chancellor George Osbourne announced in the Budget that there would be an extra 1p cut in corporation tax aimed at helping businesses increase investment. Also, news of a reduction in regulations on firms was music to the ears of companies looking to up their game in terms of investment and staff recruitment. And there was a considerable flurry of additional welcome news besides; one of the highlights being the announcement that there would be more funding available for apprenticeships and the doubling in number of planned university technical colleges (UTCs) from 12 to at least 24. This move will aim to provide technical training for the ‘lost generation’ of 16-24 year olds who are experiencing the highest unemployment since records began in 1992 as it approaches the sensitive 1 million mark. Joblessness among this age group reached 965,000 in the fourth quarter, or 20.5 per cent. A third of the total official unemployed had been out of work for more than 12 months. 

The Chancellor said he would fund an extra 40,000 apprenticeships, plus 10,000 higher level training places. Additionally there will be 100,000 places on a new work experience scheme over the next two years, up from the 20,000 previously stated. The Government is making £180 million available for up to 50,000 additional apprenticeship places over the next four years, which would provide additional capacity to support young unemployed people, in particular through progression from the work experience programme.
John Cridland, CBI director-general, commented that although employers still need more bureaucracy to be cut to encourage take up, increased funding for apprenticeships is good news. “More university technical colleges will support high-quality learning, boosting the number of science and maths graduates that businesses really need,” he said, adding: “More work placements will raise employability skills amongst young people.”
Carmen Watson managing director of recruitment firm Pertemps Recruitment Partnership, was also jubilant: “I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement and, specifically, the focus on the ‘lost generation’,” he said. Watson added that the Chancellor’s commitment to re-establish prospects for this age group is vital in helping Britain increase its competitiveness within the global economy, and in continuing to make the UK more attractive for businesses. “Making funds available is a step forward, but whilst mentoring and coaching initiatives are helpful what these young people really need is sustainable employment,” he continued.
It is certainly concerning that the rate of unemployment among young people remains on the up. Let’s trust that these latest Government initiatives do indeed encourage a reversal of this trend and act as the springboard for a business environment where companies are more eager and willing to embrace the ethos of training and mentoring. Some compelling incentives would now certainly appear to be in place.
Ed Holden

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