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Work Programme

Volume 565: debated on Monday 1 July 2013

16. What assessment he has made of the performance of the Work programme in helping young people into work. (162105)

In my hon. Friend’s area, 1,700 young people have had more than six months’ work as a consequence of the Work programme, and two of the three Work programme providers in her area have significantly exceeded their targets.

One of the best ways to create and nurture aspiration in our young people is to have better careers advice and guidance in schools and further education colleges. What discussions is my hon. Friend having with other Ministers on this, and is there more that we can do to encourage young people to set up their own businesses?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues, particularly the Under-Secretary of State for Skills, on careers guidance and advice. A further education college in my constituency is setting a good example by having an employment adviser in the college who talks to young people about the opportunities that can flow from the courses they are taking. That kind of innovation is really important if we are to ensure that young people make the best of their qualifications.

I hope that Ministers will be aware of the excellent research being carried out by the Single Parent Action Network, which supports young single parents as well as older parents who are trying to get into work. Its recent report on the Work programme found that many barriers still exist to prevent them from getting work, including the lack of affordable child care. May I urge Ministers to look at that report and to acknowledge that getting into work is not so easy for people with child care responsibilities?

The hon. Lady raises an important point. We need to work with those organisations that support lone parents to see what more the Work programme can do to help them into employment. The Chancellor announced last week that we will be providing more support to lone parents in the two or three years before their child goes to primary school.

Does the Minister agree that what we really need for young people is jobs in the economy? Will he welcome what is happening at Rushden Lakes, a major new retail and leisure park that is currently going through its planning process? It will create thousands of jobs, many of them for young people, thanks to the leadership of the Conservative-dominated Government.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Labour did not believe that the private sector would create the necessary jobs to offset public sector job losses, but over the past three years, for every job lost in the public sector, three were created in the private sector. Labour criticises that, but we should congratulate the sector.