George Osborne is under increasing amounts of pressure from business and industry chiefs to more directly address the issue of youth unemployment in this year’s budget. It is reported that the British Chambers of Commerce are calling for a £100m scheme aimed at encouraging companies to hire more of the nation’s jobless youngsters.
Alongside this progressive, and so far hugely popular request of the conservative Chancellor, tax breaks designed to encourage more investment in young entrepreneurs have also been suggested by the network. Providing their input, the Treasury has attested to the fact that youth unemployment in the UK is falling, and that further measures of this ilk would certainly act to decrease the rate further.
According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week, almost 920,000 young people are unemployed in the UK- an estimated 19.9% of all 16 to 24-year-olds- with the total unemployment rate currently resting at 7.2%.
The Promotion of Investment
It is currently predicted that young people are three times more likely to struggle finding when finding a job than the remainder of the workforce. Though rates are at their lowest since 2011, many are still finding conditions difficult.
BBC Director General John Longworth has been particularly vocal on the issue; stating in an interview with BBC Breakfast: “if the chancellor wants to avoid a lost generation among today’s 16 to 24-year-olds, he must use the spring Budget to help business take on and train up young people.”
Urging that the government should not delay any action until after the next elections (May 2015), he added: “The crisis of confidence separating Britain’s employers and young people can’t wait for political posturing or the electoral cycle. Getting young people into employment is vital, pressing and easily affordable right now”.
Opinions from the Inside
The views put forward by Mr Longworth have largely been reciprocated by the Treasury, a spokesperson commenting that the government’s long distance economic strategy is working. And also assuring pundits that there are indeed a number of proposed measures in place to deal with the issue: “The economy is growing, there are 1.3 million more jobs and unemployment has come down sharply, but the job is not done- while youth unemployment is falling, it is still too high”.
They continued: “We are creating long term career opportunities for people to get on in life, including delivering half a million apprenticeships”. Before assuring that, as promised, National Insurance payments for all under 21-year-olds will be abolished as of April 2015.
A little more resistance was provided by the opposition however, with an unnamed Labour Party spokeswoman talking to the BBC, stating: “the government should heed Labour’s call to repeat the bank bonus tax to fund a jobs programme for young people. Our compulsory jobs guarantee would mean a paid job for every young person out of work for 12 months or more”.
A Lot More to be done
As for young people themselves, opinion remains broadly apathetic on the basis that in most parts of the country, visible changes are yet to be achieved. One young jobseeker who has been out of work for two years told the BBC that, despite reports stating an improvement, “it’s still quite difficult to try and find a job.”
“Obviously a lot more needs to be done. The issue needs to be addressed properly about getting young people into work. And it’s not just getting them the job, but keeping them in work after that as well, not just short-term contracts all the time.”
Discussion on the topic has once again brought around the familiar ‘vicious cycle’ dispute. Youngsters out of work have been reaffirming the standpoint that employers have all but given up hiring their kind altogether- on account of inexperience brought on by the prolonged nature of the situation as a whole.