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Youth Unemployment

Volume 545: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2012

There are two ways of measuring youth unemployment: first, the International Labour Organisation definition, which includes both full and part-time students and gives a figure of just over 1 million; and secondly, the claimant count, which currently stands at 466,000. Clearly youth unemployment is too high on either measure, although I note that it rose by 40% under the previous Government. Recently it fell by 17,000 in the last quarter. If we look at the claimant count and include people on out-of-work schemes, we see that the number of young unemployed people has actually fallen since the election.

The number of young people in my constituency who are unemployed, underemployed and have fewer opportunities has greatly increased in the past year. Therefore, today we are setting up a taskforce specifically to deal with this increasing scourge. Will the Prime Minister commit to the active participation of every relevant Government Department in our taskforce’s work?

I certainly will do that, because there is vital work to be done to help young unemployed people. What we are finding with all the schemes we have, whether the Work programme or the youth contract, is that the most useful thing is actually the work experience scheme, because it gives young people a real leg-up and experience of the workplace and, therefore, removes some of the disadvantages they face as against older workers. We are finding that it has a much better record than other schemes, so I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to push that and pioneer it in his constituency with the help of all the agencies, as he has said.