The Local Government Association (LGA) wants to see failing Jobcentres scrapped in order to save long-termed unemployed youngsters.
Speaking at the National Children’s and Adults Services Conference, LGA chair Cllr David Sparks – a career adviser for 30 years – said that young people were being left behind:
“Unemployment is falling, but we cannot get complacent. Hidden beneath this overall fall, thousands of our vulnerable youngsters are being left behind by growth and councils fear that they may never recover.
“They are being failed by an inefficient maze of national schemes and are fast losing faith in the system and in themselves. For a young person out of work for two years or more, one more trip to the Jobcentre or an extra CV-writing course just won’t make any difference.”
Sparks added that government cannot afford to spend “inefficiently” on 40 different schemes that compete, duplicate and conflict locally. Instead, they must commit to devolving nationally-run education, skills and employment schemes to local areas, which can join-up and target services better.
The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work for more than two years has quadrupled in the past decade. Around 90,000 of the nation’s youngsters have been jobless for two years or more – up from 21,000 in 2005.
To fix this, the LGA proposes to:
- Establish a job subsidy programme to fast-track the 220,000 unemployed for over a year – delivered by councils;
- Scrap Jobcentre Plus and the maze of national reengagement schemes, replacing them with a locally-led Youth Transitions Service;
- Introduce a national Youth Transition Allowance to replace Jobseekers Allowance, to remove youngsters from the adult benefits system.
Estimates suggest youth unemployment will cost the economy £28 billion over the next decade – at least £689 million a year on benefits, £2.2 billion in lost tax and £6.3 billion in lost economic output.
“We need radical change so we can equip future jobseekers with the skills, confidence and real-life experience they need to find work and rapidly help those 220,000 youngsters looking for work for over a year,” he explained.
“Young people need a new kind of service, one that is joined-up locally around their needs and the needs of local employers rather than remote national institutions and bureaucracies.”
Unless something changes, warns the LGA, a third of young people – around 2.1 million people – will be unemployed or underemployed by 2018.
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