CIPD calls for £1,250 work placement subsidy for 16- to 17-year-olds

The CIPD has called for a new six-month work placement subsidy of £1,250 for 16- to 17 year-olds who have been jobless for more than six months, to combat the “alarming rise” in unemployed young people.

On the eve of the launch of the government’s January Guarantee for 16- to 17-year-olds, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned the package does not go far enough to tackle youth unemployment.

Last month, the government announced it would extend the September Guarantee by offering a place in learning to all 16- to 17-year-olds who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) in January 2010.

But Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser, said the January Guarantee alone was not enough. “Although the January Guarantee is welcome, it is unlikely to offer a full solution to the youth unemployment crisis that will not reach its peak until the second half of 2010. Giving young people education places and formal training opportunities is a laudable aim, and one we support.

“However, while apprenticeships are often seen as the silver bullet, many of our members say that they are not in a position yet to offer apprenticeships, even with a cash incentive. Promising apprenticeships that are not available is not enough. Meanwhile, the extra support for education places has done little to curb the rise in unemployment.”

The latest unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed there were 195,000 unemployed 16- to 17-year-olds in the three months to October, down from 215,000 the previous quarter. However, it also found there were 41,000 people in this age group who were unemployed for between six to 12 months, and 29,000 who were unemployed for more than a year – the largest number in two years.

Davies added: “The work placement idea however would give more young people the opportunity to learn key employability skills, and give employers greater flexibility around training opportunities. The limited subsidy we’re proposing would be a relatively inexpensive way of preventing the futures of thousands of young people’s working lives being blighted for many years.”

The government will plough an additional £40m of funding into the January Guarantee. A statement on the Department for Children, Schools and Families website said: “This guarantee provides an excellent opportunity to help these young people to re-engage quickly in positive and productive learning, and reduce the risk of long-term disengagement.”

Some 757,000 18- to 24-year-olds were jobless in the three months to October, according to the ONS figures. Overall, unemployment reached nearly 2.5 million.

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