Commenting after the NUT’s motion at TUC Congress on youth unemployment, which was seconded by ASLEF, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“Youth unemployment is a blight on society. For one in five young people aged 16-24 who are not in full-time education, to be unemployed is both a waste of their talent and the wrong start in a life that should see them economically active. Worklessness can lead to a feeling of hopelessness. This is not appropriate for anyone.
“Schemes such as apprenticeships can provide a bridge between education and the workplace for many young people, but the target of 250,000 places by 2015 falls far short of requirement and demand. We need many more high quality workplace-based apprenticeships, all of them paying at least the minimum wage and which lead to guaranteed employment on completion.
“To prevent us descending into a two-tier education system we need to continue to campaign for the full restoration of the Education Maintenance Allowance and the eradication of higher education tuition fees. Many of the children who expected a C but got a D grade in this year’s GCSE fiasco are also those who will have been affected by the reduction of the EMA, the trebling of university tuition fees and will be at higher risk of unemployment.
“Welfare and benefits models which require any recipient on benefits to work without a wage should also be stopped. We need to ensure that internships for young people should pay at least the minimum wage, and there should be a code of practice to regulate these.
“Our young people are society’s future. They have a right to jobs with proper contracts and at proper wage levels. Young people’s skills need to be developed for the sake of our economic future.”
For further information contact Caroline Cowie on 0207 380 4706 or 07879480061