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Young People: Unemployment

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans his Department has to prevent 17 to 19-year-olds becoming unemployed during the current economic downturn. (252901)

The current economic situation means that it is imperative to ensure young people gain the skills and qualifications they need to succeed in employment.

Local Connexions services have a key role in supporting all young people aged 13-19. They rigorously track young people’s activities so that they can provide targeted support to those young people who are in danger of becoming unemployed and those not currently in education, employment or training. They also provide tailored information, advice and guidance, supporting these young people to reengage in learning or work as early as possible.

In 2008, we extended the September Guarantee to 17-year-olds for the first time. The guarantee aims to provide all 17-year-olds with a suitable offer of a place in learning by the end of September. Almost 80 per cent. of those young people who had been engaged on a short course, or who were NEET, received an offer under the guarantee last year. The guarantee will help to ensure that all young people aged 17 have a suitable learning place by the end of September and prevent them from becoming unemployed.

Funding for apprenticeships across all ages is planned to increase by almost a quarter between 2007-08 and 2010-11, to over £1.1 billion. In addition we have recently announced our intention to invest an extra £140 million to deliver an additional 35,000 apprentices in both the public and private sectors in order to strengthen the country’s competitiveness and match young people’s demand. We have also introduced a number of flexibilities to help apprentices who face redundancy. As part of this work apprentices who are made redundant within the final six months of their apprenticeship will now be able to finish their training and gain a qualification.

We have been working closely with colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions to increase the level of support available to 18-year-olds who are unemployed. From April 2009, 18-year-old jobseekers who have spent a 26 week period NEET will receive mandatory early entry to intensive jobsearch support to enable them to enter sustainable employment faster. This system has been in place on a voluntary basis since April 2008.