The continuing fall in unemployment is very welcome news, the latest figures show a further 63,000 fewer jobless people. These numbers are indeed promising, but sadly, too many of our young people are still out of work and risk becoming trapped on benefits. With a bit of creative thinking, we can get young people off the dole and set up for life.
One idea is diverting young people’s job seekers allowance (JSA) cash to small businesses for apprenticeships. It means that if a suitable apprenticeship is offered to a young JSA claimant, but they turn down or quit the position, they would lose their unemployment benefits. The JSA cash which is freed up by moving the job seeker into paid training – about £3k per year, per person - would be given to small businesses to help them take on more apprentices.
We don’t think it’s unreasonable to give benefit sanctions if someone turns down or drops out of suitable paid training. It makes absolutely no sense at all to have young people going nowhere on benefits when they could be learning a trade that will give them purpose, a trade and a career for life.
In London, the mayor has committed to setting aside £1.5m to help London-based SMEs take on apprentices, and there are similar programmes across the country. Imagine if we get just half of the capital’s 33,200 young JSA claimants off benefits and into apprenticeships, it would free up hundreds of millions of pounds to help fund these opportunities.
Roger Evans, Conservative London Assembly Member for Havering and Redbridge and
Charlie Mullins, CEO, Pimlico Plumbers