Youth unemployment hit the headlines again last week when labour-market statistics revealed that the Lib-Con coalition government’s flagship £1 billion scheme to help young people into work had proved a complete failure. Well of course it was, it was only a rehash of Maggie Thatchers Youth Training Scheme in the 1980s, Labour's jobclubs (anyone remember the job club in Roston Vasey?)and minimum wage in the 1990s and the various other crackpot schemes introduced by both parties over the years.
Industrial and business policies that destroy jobs when there are no new job creating industries to replace them is always bound to lead to disaster.
The Coalition's Youth Contract aimed to create half a million new opportunities for so-called NEETs (people not in education, employment or training), by offering £2,275 in wage subsidy to companies willing to take on and train a young person for an initial six months. However, since launching in April 2012, only 21,000 applications were made out of the 160,000 subsidies allocated.
It’s easy to see why. The idea that cash-strapped businesses, otherwise unable to recruit new employees, much less inexperienced school-leavers, would take part is idiotic. Despite the subsidy, one assumes many companies were naturally hesitant about taking on and training staff to whom they can’t offer long-term employment.
Rather drawing a line under the whole silly business, the government and the opposition are now proposing new alternatives. The scheme’s initial advisers are urging the government to follow Labour’s proposals for a full ‘work guarantee’ for those leaving education and entering the world of work. Meanwhile, a report published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission suggested the creation of a new administrative system that would help allocate jobs to those leaving school – mirroring services like UCAS which serve prospective university students.
Well that should send even more employers running to the more business friendly jurisdictions of south east Asia.