This Government have taken decisive action to boost youth employment. We have been a Government who are very much on the side of young people, and the results are clear: youth employment is increasing, up by 110,000 over the past year, and the number of young people claiming jobseeker’s allowance is at its lowest level since the 1970s.
Youth unemployment in my constituency is down by 53% since 2010. In the city of Hull, it is down by 54%. Does my hon. Friend recognise the opportunity that has been created by the growth in apprenticeships under this Government? Does she agree with the Education Committee that it would be “a mistake” for level 2 apprenticeships to be abolished for young people, as the Labour party proposes? Does she agree, on this occasion, with the TUC, which says it would be “a grave injustice”, or with the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, which says that, on apprenticeships, Labour has “got it all wrong”?
My hon. Friend is right. Under this Government we have seen over 2 million new apprenticeships, and level 2 apprenticeships are absolutely vital in giving young people a chance. Young people have shared in the success of our long-term economic plan, with the UK now having the fourth highest youth employment rate in the EU and the second highest in the G7. Very importantly, young people’s wages are also on the rise, with the latest data showing that the earnings of 18 to 21-year-olds who work full time have increased by 6% over the past three years.
Yesterday I had an exchange with the Minister for Employment in which I made it abundantly clear that youth unemployment in my constituency continues to rise. She has said that the recent rise in youth unemployment is just “a tiny blip”. Does this Minister agree with that?
The hon. Gentleman should surely be delighted that since 2010 youth unemployment in his constituency is down by 47%, so I cannot agree with him, and that since 2010 unemployment is down by 34%. In the past 12 months, long-term unemployment is down by 38%. Surely he should be celebrating those numbers.