A lot of people have made positive noises about my idea to force businesses to take on the under 25s.One in five 16- to 24-year-olds is currently out of work. Something extreme has to happen to fix the problem. In my opinion, we should make the employment of 16-24-year-olds mandatory. I wouldn’t be surprised if that sent a shiver down the spines of every small business already looking closely at their costs. They will scream that they cannot afford to be forced into employing young people. Therefore, what’s needed from government is a “get one free” policy where small operations have the wages and training costs for their first “youth worker” paid for by government for two years. Larger companies should also play a part by taking on an additional 16 to 24-year-old for every 20 employees on their payroll. This would lead to at least five per cent of their workforce coming from the Not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) generation. Not only would that help take youth unemployment back below the one million, it will also have an impact on making sure there is a skilled and available workforce for many years to come. My proposal does raise the issue of the challenge between short-term business survival versus securing a long-term economic future. If businesses continue to cry poverty and refuse to train the next generation, then the whole system will shut down. If companies won’t give the NEET generation jobs, then someone needs to tell them to do it or suffer the consequences. The only way to enforce this is to introduce tax penalties for businesses that refuse to play ball. That may sound harsh, but we need a serious punishment to solve an increasingly serious problem. Charlie Mullins launched Pimlico Plumbers in 1979 with just a bag of tools and an old van bought at auction. The company now has more than 133 professional plumbers, 35 support staff and a £15m turnover.
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