The TUC has called on Chancellor George Osborne to use his Budget to introduce measures that will help young people get into work and boost the economy.
In its submission to next week’s Budget, the TUC said that rising levels of youth unemployment required a change of direction from the Government, and that the “cut-price” unpaid work experience schemes offered to unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds are not helping enough young people into work.
The TUC has instead called for the introduction of guaranteed paid work or training for any young person who has been out of work for at least six months.
Currently, unpaid work experience placements are available to 16- and 17-year-olds claiming jobseeker’s allowance from day one of unemployment and to 18- to 24-year-olds after 13 weeks.
The current system has recently drawn criticism, due to the risk of jobseekers losing their benefits if they fail to complete the placement. However, at the end of February, the Government decided to remove this measure except in cases of gross misconduct.
The TUC has also argued that support for young people should not be restricted to those out of work and has called for the introduction of a new youth credit to boost access to training, work placements or better jobs.
In addition, it said that the Government should create incentives to encourage firms to invest more of the £734 billion that they are “sitting on” to get the economy growing again.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber commented: “Over the last year, growth has flatlined, more people are out of work and government borrowing has risen sharply as a result. The Government’s austerity strategy is plainly not working.
“So, rather than carrying on with self-defeating cuts, the Chancellor should do what’s right for the economy and prioritise tackling our jobs crisis and getting businesses to invest more of the £724 billion they are currently sitting on. Bold new measures such as youth credits and a job guarantee will help get young people’s careers off the ground. A tax system that rewards investment, rather than propping up the City, will help generate growth and jobs in the real economy too.”
Alongside changes to the support offered to young people embarking on their careers, the TUC has called on the Government to strengthen its apprenticeship programme by introducing a minimum three-year duration and the right for trainees to graduate to a level-three apprenticeship.