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Youth Unemployment

Volume 603: debated on Monday 7 December 2015

2. What steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of young people who are long-term unemployed; and if he will make a statement. (902560)

Long-term youth unemployment has fallen by over a third over the past year, and our goal is to make sure that all young people are either earning or learning. We continue to provide extra support for young people on benefits and will introduce the new youth obligation in 2017.

With the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, which is before the House today, will the Minister do more to devolve greater control of the Work programme to councils and more to empower local managers? When universal credit comes in, will she ensure that the DWP works closely with councils on that support in order to transform the delivery of services to vulnerable people?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments and congratulate him on the work he has being doing locally in his community with the DWP and other partners, and the local authority too. He is absolutely right. Through the Work programme, and under devolution, we are working with communities, local authorities, jobcentres and other partners and stakeholders—the specialist organisations that can provide the right kind of support to support employment and to help to get more people back to work. He is absolutely right to hold up his area as a good local example.

Does the Minister agree that helping young people to embrace work experience opportunities and encouraging employers to create those is essential if we are to tackle youth unemployment and bridge the skills gap?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Of course we can never stand still in relation to employment and young people. I mentioned the youth obligation that we will bring in in 2017, but we are also developing skills and work experience. Supporting young people through work experience and traineeships is absolutely vital, and I know that she has promoted that in her constituency.

As the Minister will be aware, we are now coming to the festive period, meaning that many people will find temporary jobs. Last year, from October to December, the number of young people in work in my constituency increased by about 15%, and after Christmas it dropped by 10%. What measures is her Department taking to ensure that people are not trapped in a cycle of temporary work?

The hon. Lady is right that this is obviously the time of year when there is more seasonal employment in the run-up to Christmas, but support is provided to continue employment after such seasons. Jobcentre Plus will be supporting those who may be in part-time jobs to secure longer-term jobs. I come back to the fundamental principle that it is better to be in work, and have the experience of being in work, so as to develop long-term career and employment opportunities afterwards.

The opening of the new Primark warehouse at Islip will bring 1,000 new jobs to my area and help to reduce youth unemployment. Will the Minister join me in welcoming this jobs boost, and would she like to visit next year when it opens?

I thank my hon. Friend for his very kind invitation. We are only getting these new jobs created because we have a secure and sound economy owing to our long-term economic plan. Importantly, employers such as Primark and many other retailers are creating great employment opportunities for our young people. I would be delighted to come to open the centre in his constituency with him next year.