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Youth Unemployment

Volume 534: debated on Tuesday 1 November 2011

The 2011 Budget announced a £200 million package of support, including 100,000 work experience opportunities for young people, skills training, guaranteed interviews and progression into apprenticeships. This is in addition to the £7.6 billion that we are investing in education and training for 16 to 19-year-olds this year and the £1.4 billion that we are investing in apprenticeships. Young people will also benefit from priority access to the Work programme, which started in June.

What my constituents want is action rather than words, especially on youth unemployment, which stands at nearly 10% in Halifax. When will the Government take real measures to get young people into work and contributing to the economy and society in a positive way?

As I said in my answer, we are introducing more apprenticeships, and young people will have priority in the Work programme. The hon. Lady highlights youth unemployment in Halifax. The last estimate showed that it increased by 0.6% from June 2010 to March 2011—but I also have to point out that from 2004 to 2010, youth unemployment increased by 8.5% in Halifax.

Does the Minister share my concern that even during the boom years youth unemployment rose? Will he join me in commending the work placement scheme in Haverhill in my constituency? The work programme and the new flexibility at the jobcentre means that young people can be put into work placements, and more than half of those put in placements end up getting a permanent job.

Clearly the news from Haverhill is very encouraging, and I am delighted to hear it. I agree with my hon. Friend’s comment; it is striking that youth unemployment started increasing in 2004, at a time when the economy appeared to be in good shape.