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Long-term Youth Unemployment

Volume 609: debated on Monday 9 May 2016

Since 2010, long-term youth unemployment has halved, falling in the last year alone by 90,000. This Government are determined to support young people to improve their life chances and make sure that they do not slip into a life on benefits; rather, we will support them so that they are either earning or learning when they leave school.

Since March 2010, with the help of organisations such as N-Gaged, a training provider that recently helped me find my first apprentice, long-term youth unemployment has fallen in Kingswood by 60%. Does my right hon. Friend agree that companies such as N-Gaged deserve congratulations on getting young people back into work? What more can be done to help training providers?

That is a very good question, for which I thank my hon. Friend. He highlights the important role of training providers. They are the ones providing opportunities for young people to get their foot on the employment ladder and, importantly, to gain the skills and experience that employers are looking for. My message to him and to other employers is that I hope they will work in partnership with us so that we can encourage more of this activity.

A young autistic constituent of mine was asked by his DWP work adviser what he enjoyed doing. He replied that he enjoyed being a DJ as a hobby. His reward was to have a demand for repayment of £7,000 in benefits, having been accused of working when he did the DJing as a hobby. Is that the type of understanding approach for autistic people that this Minister likes to see from people working for the DWP?

First, I would be happy to look at the particular constituency case that the hon. Gentleman raises, but I would also say that our work coaches do a tremendous amount of work, supporting people in our jobcentres when it comes to employment and providing advice. I understand that he highlights a particular case, and as I have said, I would happy to look at the details of it, and perhaps give some guidance and advice to his constituent to support him in securing an employment outcome.

On the subject of long-term youth unemployment, I was curious to know what our work coaches are doing to help young people get the softer skills they need to get into the workplace—CV preparation and so forth?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question. Our work coaches have a range of tools at their disposal, but they work with the individual and the young person to look at the skills they may not have but which they need to secure employment outcomes. Of course, we have extra adviser time to improve job-search skills, for example, as well as sector-based work academies and support to get people on to apprenticeship schemes. As I highlighted in an earlier answer, that means working with providers.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor regularly tell us that the EU is good for jobs and prosperity. Will the Minister tell us about youth unemployment rates in the rest of the EU and whether or not the Government can learn anything from those other EU countries?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He will be aware, as will all Members, of the ongoing economic turmoil in the eurozone and the double-digit unemployment, which is really where the European Union is right now. The employment challenges that they face serve as a warning to us. I am delighted to say that the UK is a bright spot when it comes to employment, which is thanks to the long-term economic plan of this Government.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one way in which Members can help young people to find work is by hosting jobs and apprenticeships fairs? Does she look forward to the first-ever jobs and apprenticeships fairs in my Louth and Horncastle constituency on 2 September?

I commend my hon. Friend for hosting that jobs and apprenticeships fair. She is absolutely right: such fairs provide a gateway for young people who are looking for work. I know that many Members on both sides of the House have been doing exactly the same, but I encourage all Members to bring employers together in their constituencies, and to give young people the opportunities that they are seeking.