What happens when 'push' comes to shove

23rd October 2009 at 01:00

Last week, we heard that the number of 16 to 24 year-olds out of work has hit a 15-year high and that 40 per cent have been out of work for more than six months.

The UK Government's response has been a plethora of "push" policies that rest heavily on investing in labour market supply without addressing the fundamental demand - an opportunity to work. Governments cannot create long-term jobs - only businesses can. They can set up training schemes, but these will be of no use if there are no jobs.

Early indicators are that government schemes are making only a limited dent in youth unemployment. We need to look at proven ways to stimulate job demand so young people get the right mix of skills and experience to play a role in the market.

Companies like Scottish and Southern Energy have been working with Barnardo's Works programme throughout the downturn to give young people subsidised work placements and on-the-job training. As a result, over 80 per cent of them are in sustained employment.

Governments must act to tackle youth unemployment. But, in this economic climate, the key issue to be addressed is the demand for young workers, not the supply of young people willing to work.

Martin Crewe, director, Barnardo's Scotland.

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