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Unemployment: Young People

Volume 742: debated on Thursday 17 January 2013

Question for Short Debate

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the use of online tools, including social media, to combat youth unemployment.

My Lords, there will be no argument in this House that to have 945,000 16 to 24 year-olds—roughly six times the population of Oxford—out of work in the United Kingdom is a blight on our society. Youth unemployment is 20.3%: 100,000 of these young people have been out of work for more than two years; 266,000 for more than 12 months; and 436,000 for more than six months. One new graduate in every five available for work is unemployed and 36% of recent graduates are employed in lower skilled jobs. A YouGov poll commissioned by the independent Million Jobs campaign, with which I am involved—and I declare the interest—revealed that voters considered youth unemployment, behind the economy and immigration, to be the third most important issue facing the country, and 80% consider government policy to be ineffective.

Work builds families, affirms personal values and binds communities together. Being out of work for long periods impacts health and well-being. Youth unemployment cost the Exchequer more last year than the entire further education budget for 16 to 19 year-olds in England. The digital world, particularly the social media, seems to be an ideal platform to reach out to these young people in their own language and medium, motivating and informing them about employment opportunities. Online tools are how 16 to 24 year-olds communicate and keep abreast of events: 82% of young people use the internet to look for advice and information, and 95% of 16 to 20 year-olds and 74% of 21 to 24 year-olds have used Facebook in the past four weeks.

The digital economy, with which these young people have such facility, is what many businesses, particularly SMEs, are demanding—20% want a web designer, 12% see e-marketing as key to growth and 10% want help with customer management systems. More than three-quarters of businesses acknowledge that young people have these digital skills in abundance. Some 90% of the young unemployed tell us that they can use social media to promote an idea or cause. Nearly 70% can design a web page, 20% develop an app, and many are confident at coding or working with databases. Yet less than 25% of businesses will offer these young people a first-time job or training opportunity. O2 estimates that the unused digital skills of the young unemployed are worth some £6.7 billion to the British economy. Can it really be beyond the wit of government and man to bring together these skills with the digital needs of business?

However, many young unemployed have no skills to apply for work. Jobs Network—a site which colleagues and I have developed; again, I declare my interest—enables those leaving an individual school or university to access advice and help from alumni and from local businesses providing work experience. It provides help in preparing a CV, interview techniques, practical mentoring and career advice. Schemes such as this have real scalability and could be rolled out across schools throughout the United Kingdom.

The Government recognise the importance of online communications. is an excellent source of general information; Universal Jobmatch is the Jobcentre Plus online service; and Plotr and FutureYou are excellent first steps. However, despite this, we are not maximising online potential. Most government-run and funded initiatives are patchy, ill co-ordinated and not geared to what young people want, but rather geared to what government wants to provide.

At Million Jobs, the unemployed tell us that they want an online one-stop jobs shop that provides a complete service, including mentoring. They are looking for a national equivalent to our Jobs Network. Plotr shows some promise of providing this but does not have mentoring and networking capabilities. Research suggests that this and other government-funded sites appear to be too patronising in tone and too basic in content. Every government employment initiative has its own website but they are not co-ordinated, one is not linked to another and they are boring and lack focus. The coalition Government inherited 750 public sector websites, which demonstrates the extent of waste and confusion when it comes to an online co-ordination strategy.

Lessons can be learnt by considering successful initiatives in the private sector. O2’s online campaign, Think Big, has been a success because from the first visit it is fun and engaging, and its success shows the benefit of sustained and integrated promotion, with 4,200 Twitter followers and an ongoing editorial press campaign. Similarly, Livity, a youth-engagement agency, works with young people to create innovative new campaigns. Clients such as Google, Roundhouse and the NHS receive a unique insight into young minds, and in return Livity’s young people get excellent training and employment opportunities.

Some of the government-run sites are impossible to use. Fewer than 10% of student-loan applications are fully transacted online because of the complexity and frustration involved.

The private sector also recognises that there is an inherent contradiction in the way that social media work. Most people use social media to communicate and engage with and mobilise each other. It is therefore very much a bottom-up way of communicating. Anything that suggests top-down control will, by its very nature, deter already disillusioned young people. In a recent discussion about this anomaly with the Department for Work and Pensions this difficulty was confirmed. It has piloted 10 Facebook pages that have not met expectations.

There is a need for the social-media drive to be co-ordinated, and to interact with young people through channels that they use and have established themselves. Real attention must be paid to mentoring. Of course, that is where Jobs Network succeeds, by linking school leavers and university graduates to mentors in their local communities. This approach is supported by a recent report on youth unemployment. Compared with young people who sought no career advice, those who had discussed job opportunities with four or more employers were almost twice as likely to report having a good idea of the knowledge and skills needed to do a job, and they are more than twice as confident about their ability to find a good job too.

Over the past 30 years the UK has had an average of some 500,000 young unemployed people. Online and social networking provides a unique avenue by which we can reduce this horrendous waste of human talent and energy. So I have two big questions for the Government. First, how do they expect to link the online skills of the young to the needs of business?

Secondly, how can the Government develop a coherent online strategy that achieves at least five things? The first is a recognition that online communications require a bottom-up and not a top-down structure. Secondly, the tone of online communications, if they are not to be ridiculed or ineffective, cannot be patronising. Thirdly, with so many government initiatives being taken, they need to be co-ordinated and focused. Fourthly, there is much to be learnt from the way that the private sector has developed its own initiatives in this area. Finally, investing real money in getting the young into work will save the Exchequer billions of pounds, help keep our families and local communities together, and prevent this young generation being a lost generation. Can the Minister please take each of these points in turn and outline the Government’s attitude and policy towards them?

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, on obtaining this debate and on his masterly survey of the current situation. I hope that he will forgive me if, before focusing on combating unemployment among youth in contact with the criminal justice system, I take noble Lords on an indirect approach to my conclusion about the context in which online strategies can be employed, inspired by two sentences in the UK Commissioner for Employment and Skills, Valerie Todd’s, foreword to her report, The Youth Employment Challenge, published in July last year:

“Lack of experience combined with a lack of social contacts in a labour market which still relies heavily on informal methods of recruitment makes it increasingly difficult for young people to get a foot on the ladder”.


“Commissioners are committed to encouraging and incentivising UK employers to embed a culture of developing and recruiting young people into routine business practice. It is in all our interests to rise to this challenge”.

I am one of those who believe that the only raw material that every nation has in common is its people. Woe betide it if it does not do everything that it can to identify, nurture and develop the talents of its people—all its people. If it does not do that, it has only itself to blame if it fails.

I declare another interest in youth development as a past member of the City and Guilds strategy board at the time of what I regard as one of the most disastrous political decisions ever made. It was the refusal by the then Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Ruth Kelly, to accept the recommendations about raising the status of vocational education made by Mike Tomlinson in 2004. It has resulted in far too many young people being forced to go down academic routes to which they are entirely unsuited rather than having an early introduction to vocational courses and so suitable placements in the labour market.

The lack of vocational training has had another unfortunate result. At a time when the country is crying out for growth, employers are complaining bitterly about the skills shortage that is preventing them from being able to expand and develop their businesses. This is coupled with attitudes to work in general, which include a refusal to consider menial jobs because they are what some term “immigrant work” and an inability to turn up on time.

These attitudes would have come as no surprise to Glubb Pasha, whom noble Lords will remember as the commander of the Arab Legion until 1956. He wrote a monograph about empires which, he said, lasted for 250 years or 10 generations. The British Empire, according to him, lasted from 1700 to 1950. In characterising their rise and fall, he catalogued the drive and ambition of their early generations, followed by the high but turning point marked by universal access to higher education, followed by decline, encouraged by lethargy and lack of ambition, marked by people thinking that their education entitled them to a living.

That may or may not be true, but what is undoubtedly true is the confused state of our world, which is in the midst of an information technology revolution that nobody knows how to control, and whose impact on government, economies and how people live is imperfectly understood. This confusion includes the changing role of people, as labour-saving devices take over, making it difficult to determine how many people are needed and in what jobs to make the world go round and what skills they need in order to earn a living wage.

This is of course simplistic, but it provides a backdrop to the circumstances of the group of people to whose needs I wish to draw attention. It includes the appalling lack of education and job skills in young offenders, which is an indictment of our educational system. I admit that I cringe whenever I hear political parties talking competitively about their “virtual” employment schemes—virtual because they do not in fact offer either real employment or the prospects of such—or putting people back to work, when they know, and I know, that the work that they are promising simply is not there. There is a clear disconnect between the number of jobs available, the skills needed to perform them and the skills base of the potential workforce. I fear that until and unless that fact is recognised and appropriate remedial action taken, the situation can only get worse.

I once had a conversation with the head of education and skills at a young offender institution, who told me that her first task was to motivate young people to want to learn. She also wished that she had vocational training classrooms so that she could motivate them to want to work. She welcomed the aptitude tests introduced by the previous Government under its new deal, because they gave such a clear indication of individual talent and potential, but she could not exploit that knowledge because of the lack of facilities to enable young people to develop their skills.

In parallel, I have also come to the conclusion that the inability of young people to communicate verbally is the scourge of the 21st century. However able they are at digital communication, they cannot communicate either with each other or with their teachers. That is largely due to the absence of what used to be regarded as normal aspects of family life such as eating meals together. The chaotic and dysfunctional lifestyles they live are, almost from birth, dominated by the television screen, computer games and social media.

I accept that that this could be seen as helping them to prepare for life in today and tomorrow’s world by familiarising them with the tools of emerging society. However, there is what is termed a digital divide between those who have access to and can use online tools and the social media, and those who have not and/or cannot. That is why, when considering youth employment, it is important to strike a balance between reliance on these tools, and on the social contacts and informal methods of recruitment that are deemed by employers to be such an essential part of the process of getting on the employment ladder. That leads me to hope that the Government will not put all their youth employment-finding eggs in one digital basket.

That is the end of my indirect approach to the subject of this debate; I will now concentrate on my direct approach. The noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, has already mentioned Plotr, the Government initiative launched by the Prime Minister last year to help young people to plot their careers online. Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said recently that Plotr had the broad aim of,

“inspiring young people and connecting them to all the opportunities available to them to make the most of their lives”.

That is very worthy and praiseworthy for the digital haves, who have access to online tools and social media, but not so good for the have-nots, who include the 8,862 between the ages of 15 and 20 held in young offender institutions, who face the double whammy of also being denied access to the work experience and social contact that is deemed so essential by employers.

The Justice Secretary, launching his rehabilitation revolution, announced his determination to reduce reoffending, to achieve which a home, a job and a stable relationship are said to be the three most important contributory factors. I expect that the Minister, in her summing up, will commend the use of online tools and the social media to combat youth unemployment, with all the advantages trumpeted by Nick Hurd. However, I hope that she will also encourage the Justice Secretary to ensure that young offenders, for whom everything possible must be done to deter them from a life of crime, are given access to the online and social media tools, if not individually because of security reasons, then at least in learning and skills departments in establishments.

My Lords, I, too, will start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, for securing this debate. Youth unemployment is an incredibly important issue, and it is to his great credit that he raises it today and has spoken so knowledgeably and passionately on this subject. I will also pay tribute to the work he has done in equipping school leavers for the jobs market.

I would like to set out my own background in this area because it is pertinent to what I have to say. I have been involved in information technology for most of my adult life. I started my business career in an environment where data were stored on punch cards and massive mainframe computers were water-cooled. Today, this iPad that I am reading from at this very moment has many thousand times the power and internal storage memory of those massive machines—and I can fit it into my briefcase.

In 2000, when I was first introduced into your Lordships’ House, I founded a charity called the e-Learning Foundation. Its remit was to ensure that every school child in this country had their very own computing device which they could use at school as well as at home. We thought then that the computer should be as ubiquitous as the pencil and we recognised that, in the 21st century, IT skills were critical. Most of all, we were concerned about the problems associated with the digital divide, which the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, has just mentioned, that occurs when the population is segmented into those who are IT literate and those who are not. The devices we first used were laptops and even desktops. They were heavy, expensive and, in the case of the desktop, clearly not mobile. Today we have a new world. Again, the iPad in front of me demonstrates how it has all changed and how the technology today fulfils the criteria we were seeking: powerful, small and mobile. When I read that over the Christmas period, iPads and other tablets were the hottest consumer presents, it comforts me that the objectives we set at the e-Learning Foundation are now close to being met. In a few years’ time, no young person will be without a tablet, much the same as very few are without their smartphones.

When we come to youth unemployment, it seems that there are two sides to the picture. First, as the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, has already stated, it is an extremely discouraging situation. But the other side is slightly more reassuring. A whole generation has grown up with the skills needed in the 21st century. What we need now is to channel those skills. I contend that with better recruiting methods, the young unemployed can be matched with dynamic companies, particularly smaller ones.

I turn, first, to the challenge. Currently, almost 1 million young people are unemployed in the UK, with 430,000 claiming jobseeker’s allowance. Of particular concern is the number of young people who are finding themselves in the very difficult position of being unemployed for a long period of time. Almost a quarter of a million are currently among the long-term unemployed, which is at its highest level since 1994. Given that long-term unemployment for the whole population stands at 1.3 million, we need to do everything we can to ensure that our unemployed young do not find themselves out of work for extended periods or even for the rest of their lives. The demise of the Future Jobs Fund is to be regretted, especially since the DWP impact analysis showed that for each person it contributed £8,000 to the economy. The Work Programme, which was designed by this Government to replace the Future Jobs Fund, appears to have been rather badly named because it is not a programme and it does not create very much work. Of the 785,000 people who have been referred to the programme, only 18,000 have achieved what could be a called a job outcome. Essentially, in its first 12 months, the Work Programme has placed only two in every 100 participants into work. That is not very impressive. I shall put it more strongly. The Government have a habit of announcing shiny new policies, each of which grabs a quick headline, but because they have been ill thought through they wither on their implementation. This is just another example.

I must emphasise to your Lordships that, for my party, youth unemployment is very high up on the agenda. My right honourable friend Ed Miliband has said that the real jobs guarantee would give six months of paid work to anyone aged under 25 who has been out of work for more than a year, and that it would be paid for by a tax on bank employment.

Social media provide opportunities for us to help find jobs for more young people. In today’s world, young people no longer get their news from print, but from their screens. There are downsides to this, of course, but there are also benefits. Equipped with digital skills, young people are in a better position to help companies, many of which are falling behind in their adoption of digital technology. One programme started last November in the United States catches the eye. It is called the Social Jobs Partnership, a collaboration between Facebook, the US Department of Labor and the National Association of Colleges and Employers. It uses five of the biggest job-listing sites in the United States to gain access to 1.7 million vacancies on Facebook and builds upon research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers which shows that companies want to use social media better to contact potential recruits. Some 87% of those surveyed suggested that candidates “like” a Facebook page of companies that they are interested in.

I listened with interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, said about his work on programmes to give school leavers the skills they need to go out and find a job. One area that needs to be addressed is personal presentation and interview technique. I know it seems old-fashioned, but too many young people do not have a clue how to present themselves. Even in the digital age, this matters. Maybe peer-to-peer contact would help. I want to address some of this as I proceed.

My mantra on job applications is that you never have a second chance to make a first impression: so make a first impression. I know it seems blindingly obvious, but those looking for a job need to know that they must turn up on time—indeed, before time—for an interview. To be five minutes late and flustered is unacceptable. They should look attentive and dress appropriately. Young people need social skills that may not come easily to them: how to present themselves and how to speak on the telephone. Most of all, they need to do their homework. In a world where information is so easy to come by, why is it that some interviewees do not research the organisation they are hoping to join? In my view, it is because the education system has failed them. Schools and universities need to do more in instructing young people how to prepare for job-seeking and interview technique.

Young people also need to be aware of the perils of the digital world. Digital presence is very important, from the wording used in an e-mail to what they put on their Facebook page. Employers look on Facebook and it is not helpful if silly videos, or worse, are on their sites. CVs need to be better. I am associated with a wonderful organisation called the Amos Bursary, set up by my noble friend Lady Amos and her sister. This charity helps young black men find their way to full-time employment. For some of these young men, university can be very daunting, and for one reason or another they lack personal networks. Mentors can help.

Social networking sites offer young people the opportunity to link in with the outside world. I believe that much more can be done. LinkedIn is a good example. Many of us use it and it seems to be geared to the professional classes, but why should it be just them? It is free, so why is it not used by more young unemployed people?

In my family two young people have set up companies, by coincidence, in the graduate recruitment sector. I need to declare this interest. First, my own nephew, Keren Mitchell, is a founder of the JobCrowd, and my son, Felix Mitchell, is a founder of Instant Impact. Both are relevant to these points. Sometimes family gatherings are interesting.

The JobCrowd is the graduate recruitment equivalent of TripAdvisor, which provides anonymous references for hotels and restaurants. In this case, the site enables job applicants to get inside information from their peers who already have jobs. They answer questions such as, “What is it really like?” and, “Can I believe what I’m being told?” Instant Impact places graduates with small and medium-sized companies—in particular, paid interns. I want to say a little about this before I finish.

Competition for jobs is very high and every applicant is doing his or her best to make their CVs seem as interesting as possible. Internships really matter and the sad fact is that many young people believe that it is necessary to take unpaid positions just to show that they have a track record. Students doing holiday jobs are one thing, but people having to work for nothing is simply wrong. Many of the worst offenders are in the NGO or charitable sector. To be honest, charities that I have personally been involved in have also done this, so I am not without guilt. Companies do it, particularly those in media and marketing, where young people are willing to sacrifice their pay just for the glamour. It also exists here, in this Westminster village. How many MPs and members of your Lordship’s House have unpaid young people working for them just so that they can put this placing on their CVs? It is wrong; it must change, and change quickly; and we should set the example.

This digital age is presenting new opportunities in so many ways, but the most successful of all has been social networking. If we can use this technology to help solve the iniquity of youth unemployment, we will have achieved a lot.

My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Chadlington for securing this debate. I feel as strongly about youth unemployment as everyone else who has spoken today. First, I associate myself with the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, about presentation and the importance of communication. Like the noble Lord, I believe it is essential that people get it right because there is only one chance to make a first impression.

I also very much share the views of the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, about the importance of vocational education and of people having a clear route to success via that road if an academic route is not right for them. It may interest noble Lords to know that I was a teenager in the early 1980s and did not go to university. I do not remember anybody encouraging me to go but that may have been because I desperately wanted to go to work. I was very fortunate to have two wonderful parents, who said to me that getting a job, being dedicated to it and doing it to the best of my ability would be a route to success. I will leave others to judge whether I have achieved success so far but I very much understand how important it is for those who do not naturally want to follow an academic route to have other clear options available to them.

Youth unemployment is still too high in this country, as my noble friend Lord Chadlington made clear. However, the levels of worklessness among some young people cannot simply be put down to the present state of the economy. The problem we face, as noble Lords have indicated in their comments today, is much more entrenched than that. For the past decade and longer, too many of our young people have been trapped on the margins, some of them growing up without positive role models or in families where no one has ever held a job, failed by underperforming schools or dropping out of education without any qualifications, and ending up in the jobcentre at 18, unready for the world of work.

Even before the recession, youth unemployment had started to rise. In 2001, just over half a million young people were unemployed. By 2007, that number had already increased to just over 700,000. As all noble Lords agree, we cannot afford to neglect the next generation. Whether it be keeping them in school or vocational training, or helping them into work, this Government are committed to supporting young people, ensuring that they realise their potential.

Even in these tough economic times, we have seen that it is possible to make some progress. Youth unemployment is down by 72,000 in this quarter alone. If you take out those in full-time education, that fall is even greater—down 90,000 to 626,000, the lowest figure since the beginning of 2009. However, we are not complacent, and I am not here to talk down the situation. There are promising signs that the steps we are taking to tackle youth unemployment are having an effect but, clearly, we need to do more.

I will come to online issues in a moment but will first say something about investment and how we have radically changed the way we are approaching the issue of youth unemployment in this coalition Government. Through the £1 billion Youth Contract, this Government have brought together previously piecemeal provision and underpinned it by greater funding, scope and ambition. With the DWP, the DfE and BIS working together, the contract offers intensive employment support for young people, targeted at addressing the particular barriers they face.

We know that a lack of experience often proves a problem, so we are creating an extra 250,000 work experience places over the next three years. Of 65,000 young people who have started work experience already, nearly half are off benefits 21 weeks later. We know that for businesses, employing a young person comes with both a cost and a risk attached, which is why we are offering 20,000 new apprenticeship grants and 160,000 wage incentives to encourage employers to take on young people. By easing the costs, it becomes more straightforward to give young people a chance. However, we are also emphasising the potential benefits to employers, which is incredibly important—a point made most forcefully by my noble friend Lord Chadlington. As he said, young people are what is known now as “digitally native” and can offer skills that are valuable to businesses, certainly to small and medium-sized businesses that might not naturally have those skills already available to them in their existing workforce.

In the DWP, alongside these valuable interventions, we are harnessing online tools and channels ensuring that our employment services reflect how claimants—and young people in particular—choose to interact. I have given a range of examples but the most recent and significant is the Universal Jobmatch; an online service which has transformed the way people look for and find work. It is simpler and quicker for jobseekers to use, with alerts when new jobs are posted. It provides a free service for employers, and the service also benefits Jobcentre Plus advisers by modernising how they review claimants’ work search activity.

However, as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, said, we must recognise that not all people have access to the internet, and that not everybody has the skills to be able to use these kinds of services. I would say to the noble Lord that even the most basic jobs these days do require some form of digital skill, even if it is just data-entry in a warehouse. We must recognise that if someone is not able to use some of our online services to find jobs, it is our responsibility to make sure that they are trained so that they can use those services, because they will need those skills once they arrive at work. I was interested to hear that the initiative that the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, said that he launched when he first entered the House of the Lords was his e-learning foundation and the provision of devices. I wish him continued success with that.

I turn now to what we are doing for those still in school and the points made by my noble friend Lord Chadlington about online communication to promote opportunities—all of which I agree with. I believe that the bottom-up approach and co-ordinating our effort are not mutually exclusive—neither is his point about tone. We need to do all these things, as well as learn from what works in the private sector and be open to new initiatives that we do not run ourselves.

One national service that is available is the National Careers Service, which was launched in April last year. It supports young people in making training and career choices. I note what my noble friend said about some of the services available, but I am sure that a service that is less than a year old is seeking to improve what it offers continually, learning from the experiences of those who use it.

UCAS is independent of government and provides an online application service for those wanting to pursue further and higher education. Picking up one of the points that my noble friend made about ensuring that there is co-ordination of services, it is worth reminding ourselves that one of the advantages of the digital and online world is that users like to be able to access data and adapt it—to use it in ways that best suit their needs. That lends itself to—and points towards—not necessarily having a single shop that is nationwide and available, but making something accessible so that people can adapt it.

The Government have recently made data available that compares university courses—this is on a website that we run called Unistats—but we are also making that data widely available. The consumer service Which? has taken advantage of this and has already adapted that material into its website, which is available to those who want to be able to see and compare directly how different courses might provide the kind of training and education that they want.

The National Apprenticeship Service provides information on a nationwide basis, but we know that there is more we can do to promote the schemes available. We think that the idea set out by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, in his article in the Financial Times earlier this week—that UCAS should become an integrated higher education and apprenticeships service—is a great one. We have noticed that UCAS is enthusiastic about this as well and David Willetts is already pursuing this.

All these national services are tweeting and using social media to communicate what they are doing. I myself have retweeted things in the past to promote what they are doing. But we must be careful that we do not try to control too much from the centre. As with the great initiative that the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, referred to, TheJobCrowd, if something is working and people are using it, far be it from us to seek to control it.

As my noble friend said, is a new website arising from a partnership of businesses in response to the Prime Minister’s direct challenge to find new ways to inspire young people to broaden their horizons. That is something that we want to see continue. However, as and when new local schemes, such as the Jobs Network, which my noble friend mentioned, get off the ground and achieve results, we want to hear about them so that we can promote them to other schools for heads to consider. Earlier I talked about today’s debate to my honourable friend Matthew Hancock, the Minister for Skills, who works out of both BIS and the Department for Education. He asked me to inform my noble friend that he would welcome learning more about the Jobs Network.

The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, pointed to the risk to young offenders of long-term unemployment. It is worth pointing out that when young offenders are released they are referred directly to the Work Programme at the start of their claim. This provides intensive support and providers are incentivised to support this group as being in need of particular support. Perhaps the noble Lord is aware that there was a debate earlier this week specifically about support and training for young offenders. If he has not had an opportunity to read that debate in Hansard, he might be interested in the response that my noble friend Lord Ahmad gave to that debate.

In conclusion, we cannot underestimate the challenge of youth unemployment, especially in an uncertain economy, nor the damage we would do if we did not support our young people to be ambitious for success. By providing more training, work experience and opportunities for young people via the online channels that they use readily and often, we are giving individuals a chance to prove themselves and to secure a better future, which everyone here today wants to achieve. From a personal point of view, we must ensure that we do not define success too narrowly. For me, success is doing what you do as best as you can, and I want all young people to be able to experience that.

House adjourned at 5.18 pm.