Young People need support, not just sanctions, to find work

17 August 2015

Responding to the announcement today, by Government, of their plans to introduce ‘boot camps’ for young unemployed people in 2017, David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said,

“This proposal for more intensive support for young jobseekers, which will reinforce the Government’s commitment for all young people to be earning or learning, has the potential to support the Government’s new Youth Allowance for 18-24 year olds. This was something NIACE called for in Ten Policies for Ten People back in April.

“Far too many young people aren’t on the right career pathway, which has historically resulted in a lifetime of low earnings and few opportunities for them to progress in life and work. To be successful, Government needs to target this correctly, and also get the tone right.

“We welcome today’s assurance, by Matthew Hancock MP, that that the central aim of the ‘Boot Camp’ is to support young people, rather than chastise them. Countless independent evaluations undertaken of DWP activity have demonstrated that intensive job search alone has the tendency to deliver very poor outcomes for recipient and taxpayer alike.  Recent analysis of trailblazer activity in London highlighted that whilst there may be short-term reductions in the claimant count, a punitive approach fails to get people into long term sustainable employment. It is critical that as this programme is rolled out it is communicated to recipients as a positive intervention, if it is to deliver success.

“It also needs to be targeted to help those with the greatest need. Already more than two-thirds of young people claiming JSA leave benefit within three months, so for many, this sort of additional support will not be a priority nor appropriate use of limited resource. It is also important to make sure that the focus on activities does not get in the way of young people finding work or training as quickly as possible. This intensive programme must allow young people to shape careers by building effective pathways to traineeships, apprenticeships and jobs, rather than simply help remove people from the unemployment register.  NIACE has a strong track record in helping Government and Local Enterprise Partnerships to develop pathways to employment and we look forward to working with them to help get this right.

“Whilst supporting young people into work is critical, we need to promote a universal culture of lifelong learning that fosters the skills and talents of the entire UK workforce, if we are to tackle our damaging levels of productivity. We would ask Government to consider offering this enhanced support to all long-term unemployed people, recognising that it’s not just young people who are not in Education, Employment or Training.”