Committee raises youth unemployment fears

Apprenticeship schemes should be targeted at the unskilled and long-term unemployed young people, say the MPs
Apprenticeship schemes should be targeted at the unskilled and long-term unemployed young people, say the MPs

By staff

There will be a gap in government support for young unemployed people next year, a committee of MPs has warned.

The government is controversially scrapping the Future Jobs Fund (FJF) begun under Labour and replacing it with Iain Duncan Smith's ambitious 'work programme'.

But the work and pensions select committee found in its report today that there would be a gap in funding between the last beneficiaries of the FJF starting in March next year, and the work programme coming into force in June.

Committee chair Anne Begg said: "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 which is known to have a continued impact on their life chances.

"Providing this support is even more important during these difficult economic times."

The MPs called for the government to bring in transitional arrangements to address the gap in support next year - and to focus more effort on those young people who are unskilled and long-term unemployed in its expansion of apprenticeships.

The Future Jobs Fund provides money to go towards temporary jobs to 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for more than six months.

It received qualified praise from the MPs, who stated: "There was evidence that the programme had a positive effect on young people, providing them with confidence and experience.

"However, the FJF was relatively expensive and it is still too early to assess whether it was successful in supporting unemployed young people in finding permanent jobs."

Crucially though, the committee found that the government did not have adequate evidence about the scheme's effectiveness to justify its cancellation.

It also questioned how the new work programme would operate initially. Ms Begg expressed concern that the planned programme "may not be fully available in all areas of the country from next June".


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