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Dr Neil Lee

Move to speed up Youth Contract in troublespots is welcome but we need more for the long-term

Authors: Dr Neil Lee Dr Neil Lee

27 June 2012

Youth unemployment is one of the most important issues facing the UK, and it is highly spatially uneven – we’ve repeatedly warned about hotspots of youth unemployment. To address this, Nick Clegg will today announce extra help for young people in 20 youth unemployment troublespots. In places like Hartlepool, Birmingham and Middlesborough, the Youth Contract will be speeded up: eligibility will begin at 6 months rather than the usual 9.

We welcome this move. The Youth Contract is a good set of policies, and a lot of damage can be done in nine months. But the Youth Contract will apply in the short-term only, while labour market transitions have been getting harder for some time. We need action to address the long-term crisis of youth unemployment. Action is needed to coordinate youth transitions at both the local and a national level.

At a local level the problem isn’t a lack of initiatives - in Shoreditch alone there are 70 programmes for NEET young people. But this complexity makes it hard for young people to find the help they need, and young people can be passed from one service to another. At a local level we think coordination is needed. We called for this in a report last year, as have ACEVO and the TUC, and we’re doing more work on it through our Missing Million research programme.

Partnerships will need to include councils, charities, employers and colleges. There was an important announcement from the Big Lottery Fund yesterday in which they indicated that they will fund local partnerships for youth unemployment through their Talent Match programme. (See our Director, Ian Brinkley’s, official endorsement here). This is an important first step to local coordination.

Whitehall needs a coordinated response and a single body accountable for young people.  We’ve called for a youth employment unit with specific ministerial responsibility to help ensure policy is joined up and reduce short-term rises. At present, Clegg appears to be playing this role. But this is a long-term problem, and we need the institutions to address it.

 

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