17. What steps his Department is taking to help young people into employment. (904067)
We are determined that young people should not slip into a life on benefits, but that they are either earning or learning. That is why we have launched Jobcentre Plus support in schools and will introduce the youth obligation in 2017, to ensure that young people get the best possible start in life.
In my constituency of South Leicestershire, we have seen a welcome fall of 81% in the youth claimant count, from 505 in 2010 to 95 now. That has been achieved through the strong joint working between my right hon. Friend’s Department, local authorities such as Blaby and Harborough District Councils, local enterprise partnerships, and not least businesses. Does she agree that it is through empowering and devolving responsibilities to those closest to the communities that we are most able to provide the support needed to help young people to get back to work?
I pay tribute to all the local stakeholders in my hon. Friend’s constituency who have been providing vital employment support to people to get the claimant count down so low. He is right to say that local decisions help to get people into work. That is why we are always mindful of local labour market trends.
Next month, Bexhill will be holding its first jobs and apprenticeships fair. This event, which I have put on in partnership with Jobcentre Plus and other local organisations, will allow constituents to meet 50 participating organisations. Does my right hon. Friend agree that local organisations working together can help us towards the goal of full employment?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I speak with experience of not just my own constituency but the many other constituencies I have visited where jobs and apprenticeships fairs have taken place. The crucial point is that they can only happen with the support of local employers. The Department will continue to work at national and constituency level with local employers to support jobs and apprenticeships fairs like the one to which he refers.