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Low Pay and Training

Volume 603: debated on Monday 7 December 2015

For the first time, universal credit will support claimants in work to earn more. Work coaches will provide tailored support to claimants on low wages to improve their pay. To help to develop our package of support for people in work, we are implementing a comprehensive test and learn strategy to understand better the impact that labour market policies can have on helping people on low incomes to get jobs in which they earn more.

Does the Minister agree that having a high-skill, high-pay economy is exactly the way to drive up productivity and, crucially, social mobility, which is the key thing underpinning the Government’s strategy?

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. The latest figures show that the employment rate for young people who have left full-time education is above the UK average and is at its highest level for a decade at 74.3%.

Low pay and training needs affect many disabled people. Two years ago, almost to the day, the Department announced the extension of the Access to Work programme to disabled people seeking training, internships and apprenticeships. How many people have benefited from that scheme and when will we hear about its progress?

We are very close to record levels as far as that initiative is concerned. As I said earlier, our long-term economic plan is continuing. While I am at the Dispatch Box, may I say that the House has considerable sympathy with all that the hon. Gentleman and a lot of his colleagues are going through?

May I pay tribute to your office, Mr Speaker, for the way in which it has combated exploitative internships, which are often unpaid and are used to exploit many young people? Many people begin their career progression with an internship. Will the Minister outline what the Government are doing to ensure that young people are not exploited through long-term unpaid internships?

As I have said, the facts prove that young people are getting into jobs a lot more than they did before—certainly more than when the Labour party was in government.