Johnson: Young people to get 'opportunity guarantee'

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said that every young person will have the chance of an apprenticeship or work placement

Kate Parker

PM: Young people will get an 'opportunity guarantee'

Young people will be offered an “opportunity guarantee”, prime minister Boris Johnson has said. 

Speaking in Dudley today, Mr Johnson said that every young person will be given the chance of an apprenticeship or work placement. 

He said:  “As the economy recovers, we also know the jobs that many people had in January are not coming back. We know that's the biggest economic challenge that we face and so we will also offer an opportunity guarantee so that every young person has a chance of an apprenticeship or in-work placement so that they maintain the skills and confidence. They need to find the job that is right for them.”

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The idea of a guarantee for young people was first mooted by the chair of the Commons Education Select Committee Robert Halfon, who this morning set out how he thinks an apprenticeship guarantee could be implemented. 

He said the apprenticeship levy should be redirected to focus on young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the National Skills Fund should be used to subsidise apprentice wages, universities should be set targets on degree apprenticeships and careers advice in schools needed to be improved.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Mark Dawe said: "The fact that the prime minister sees work placements as a key part of a new opportunity guarantee for young people is an important step forward and we recently submitted at the government’s request what has been holding back the highly effective traineeship programme from taking off. We believe incentives for SME employers will be needed.

"On apprenticeships, we don’t believe that the floated £3,000 employer incentive is going to cut it. To meet a 50 per cent wage subsidy, the subsidy for a young apprentice in their first year should be around £4,000 and up to £7,500 in second year depending on their age." 

Joe Dromey, deputy director of research and development at Learning and Work Institute said: "We know that young people face a particularly high risk from unemployment as a result of the Coronavirus crisis and that youth unemployment can have a lasting scarring effect. Learning and Work Institute has been leading a number of organisations in calling for an Opportunity Guarantee to prevent a catastrophic rise in youth unemployment, and the emergence of a pandemic generation. 

"But with hundreds of thousands of 18-year-olds leaving education this summer, this needs to be delivered at scale and at pace, and it needs to go beyond a focus on apprenticeships and work placements. Building on the successful Future Jobs Fund, we've called for a job guarantee scheme focused on young people. We also need to look at support for young people to stay in education for an additional year, to reduce the number of young people entering the labour market at this difficult time.

 "The government has taken unprecedented measures to protect jobs during the crisis. We need the same level of ambition to create opportunities for young people, and to avoid the scourge of youth unemployment."

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateParkerTes

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