14. What progress he has made in reducing the rate of youth unemployment. (902573)
Youth unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in over seven years. In addition, the proportion of young people who have left full-time education and are unemployed—5.9%—has never been lower.
The Wheatsheaf Trust runs an employment access centre, helping young people off benefit and into work in my Havant constituency. Will the Minister join me in congratulating the trust on its work on the ground and confirm that the Government will continue to put young people at the heart of their aspiration for full employment and their long-term economic plan?
Of course I congratulate the Wheatsheaf Trust on the work it does, and I know that my hon. Friend has made youth unemployment and getting young people back into work a priority in his own constituency. He is, of course, right that as a Government we are committed to helping more young people to secure employment opportunities, which is why we will continue to support work experience programmes and traineeships and will introduce a new youth obligation.
But too many of the apprenticeships have been going to older people who are already in jobs. Does the Minister agree that what is really needed is apprenticeships that provide intermediate and advanced high-level skills and qualifications that are valuable both for young people and the success of our economy?
I view all apprenticeship skills as providing value-added to our economy. Let me provide the example of my visit to Pimlico Plumbers last Thursday. They are investing in young people and taking on young apprentices—[Interruption.] I hear Labour Members being disparaging about the employer organisation, but it is creating employment and career opportunities for young people, as does every other business and employer organisation that takes young people on at an apprenticeship level. Those organisations are the future; they are the ones investing in our young people, creating great career opportunities and passing on skills for our economy.