#163;300m war chest to take on youth unemployment

8th January 2010 at 00:00

Up to 100,000 training places, jobs and work placements are to be created with a pound;300 million fund to tackle the youth unemployment crisis throughout Britain.

From April, 18 to 24-year-olds who have been out of work for six months will be compelled to accept a job or training place offered by Jobcentre Plus under a new "young person's guarantee."

Currently, 495,000 under-25s are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, but the Department for Work and Pensions estimates that fewer than 100,000 of them have been out of work for six months.

The Labour Force Survey puts the number of unemployed under-25s at a record 750,000, raising concerns that some young people may be missed by the system.

It is not known how much of the funding will be used for training rather than job creation, and is expected to depend on individuals' needs.

A spokeswoman for the DWP in Scotland said it would be working closely with the SNP Government to implement its plans.

Yvette Cooper, work and pensions secretary in Whitehall, said: "In the 1980s, youth unemployment continued to rise for four years after the recession ended. A generation of talent was wasted. We are determined that it must never happen again, so we will guarantee a job, training or work experience at six months for 18 to 24-year-olds."

Paul Warner, director of employment and skills at the Association of Learning Providers, said it was not certain whether the funding would be enough to cover every 18 to 24-year-old.

"It does really only scratch the surface at the moment," he said. "As always, the devil is in the detail."

The creation of short-term, sixth-month jobs also undermined training providers, who were expected to help people into sustainable, long-term work, he said.

Ian Brinkley, associate director at the Work Foundation, said the tide had turned for most of the economy, but young people were still struggling. "The under-25s were the first to feel the recession and there is no sign of a revival in their job prospects," he said.

The DWP white paper, Building Britain's Recovery, will encourage businesses to recruit young apprentices, with a pound;2,500 "golden handshake".

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