Government urged to act on youth unemployment

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A campaign is being launched to press the Government to create a fully funded jobs guarantee scheme for young people.

The Alliance For Full Employment, set up by former prime minister Gordon Brown and backed by mayors across the UK and other senior politicians, started a petition on Parliament’s website.

The alliance said it believes the Government has a “moral duty” to future proof the job prospects of young people from the damage the Covid-19 pandemic is causing to the jobs market.

Mr Brown said he wanted the Government to offer job support and training for work to the one million 16 to 24-years-olds he estimates are now in need of help.

He said: “One million young people out of work is grim news, and a devastating blow to the confidence and self worth of every single one of them.

“Unless the Government acts fast and gets ahead of the youth unemployment crisis and creates a desperately needed prospects protection plan for young people, I fear we will need to create 1.5 million work or training places.

Gordon Brown (Jane Barlow/PA)
Gordon Brown (Jane Barlow/PA)

“The Prime Minister and the Chancellor don’t have to wait to find a vaccine against joblessness.

“They can improve job prospects today by upscaling existing job support services and job creating schemes and upgrading Kickstart because, as it is currently designed, thousands of the young unemployed will not get places for months.

“We urgently need to get ahead of the surging unemployment curve.

“Otherwise long Covid will also mean 1980s levels of long term youth unemployment.”

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, said: “Coronavirus has presented us with a series of massive economic challenges, chief amongst them being a looming crisis in unemployment.

“No-one in Liverpool City Region who remembers the youth unemployment of 1980s wants to sit back and watch another generation wasted.”

A Government spokesman said: “We know that young people have been hit especially hard by the crisis, which is why our Plan for Jobs specifically focuses on offering them choices.

“We’ve backed hundreds of thousands of young people to find good jobs through the £2bn Kickstart scheme while also investing in increasing the number of apprenticeships, traineeships and work coaches to support those who will benefit from different opportunities.

“Our focus from the outset has been on supporting those in need – and analysis shows that the youngest and poorest benefited most from our initial economic interventions.

“This support will continue as we look to revitalise the economy, build back better and create, protect and support jobs.”

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