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Youth Unemployment

Volume 536: debated on Wednesday 23 November 2011

3. What recent estimate she has made of the number of 16 to 24-year-olds who are unemployed in Wales. (81782)

Current levels of youth unemployment in Wales and across the UK are, of course, disappointing. We are determined to tackle that and will announce additional measures as part of phase 2 of the growth review.

That is two Ministers now who have used the word “disappointing” about unemployment. Frankly, it is a tragedy and one of the worst things about it is that a previous Conservative Government consigned constituencies such as mine and whole communities like the Rhondda to long-term mass unemployment. They are doing exactly the same now to a generation of young people. Will the Minister suggest one single thing that he personally is doing in his Department to tackle youth unemployment in Wales and in the Rhondda?

Of course youth unemployment is too high and of course, sadly, that is not a new phenomenon. In the last Parliament, youth unemployment in Wales increased by 73% and we have not heard a word of apology from the hon. Gentleman for that. We recognise the importance of the problem and that is why we have introduced the Work programme, which provides properly targeted support to young jobseekers.

Is not export-led growth one route to addressing youth unemployment? In that regard, will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to congratulate private sector business in Wales, which since the last election has seen a 31% increase in Welsh exports—double the national average and the largest increase of any part of the United Kingdom?

Yes. My hon. Friend is entirely right. The export figures for Wales were extremely encouraging, led particularly as they were by the engineering sector. In that connection, we must commend Airbus for the wonderful work it is doing in the north-east of Wales.