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Local councils should lead work programmes

Almost 50,000 fewer young people are being helped by national job schemes compared with three years ago, the Local Government Association (LGA) has found.

The new report, ‘Hidden Talents: national programmes for young people’, showed a drop of 8% in the number starting one of 35 national schemes currently running. The system is “overly complicated” and the Government’s “continued meddling” has had a negative impact, the LGA said.

It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of these schemes, and where results were available, they were poor. Only 27% of young people in the Government’s Youth Contract were helped into work, while local schemes have been found to be more successful.

A common system for work programmes should be adopted, commissioned by local authorities, the report recommends. Local and sub-regional priorities for young skills provision should be set and councils could co-design programmes with job centres for the hardest to reach young people.

Cllr David Simmonds, chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: “With young people returning to school in a few weeks now having to stay in education or training until they are 17 years old, it's even more important that we are offering them meaningful training and employment schemes that will provide the very best opportunities for them to get into the local jobs market.

“It's clear that nationally-driven attempts to tackle youth unemployment aren't working. While there are a number of good initiatives, government has sidelined councils and incentivised a series of services like schools, colleges and voluntary sector providers to work in isolation of each other, with no clarity on who is responsible for leading the offer to young people on the ground.

“We know the level of success that local organisations, such as councils, businesses and education providers, can achieve when working together, but this is being hampered by successive centrally-driven Government approaches. This has long been a major frustration for councils, who are in the unique position of knowing the young people in their area and the skills and training required by the local jobs market.

“We would now urge Government to give local authorities and their partners the powers to ‘own the problem' and become the link between young people and local employers. By introducing a local approach to addressing youth unemployment councils and their partners will be better able to spot and offer early help to young people struggling at school, train young people in skills to take local jobs in local labour markets, help improve the performance of the Work Programme for the hardest to reach, and target job subsidies to local businesses offering the best opportunities for young people.”

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Image c. Helen Cobain


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