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The Government's new Youth Contract: what do you think?

(164 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 25-Nov-11 12:04:51


You may have seen/heard that Nick Clegg has announced today a £1billion Youth Contract to tackle youth unemployment.

The Youth Contract includes, among other things, subsidised work and training placements, and a programme to help the most disengaged 16 and 17-year-olds get back to school or college, onto an apprenticeship or into a job with training. You can read more about it here.

The Cabinet Office has just been in touch with us at MNHQ to ask us what Mumsnetters think about these plans. So we've said we'll start a thread to find out.

Please do tell!

saggarmakersbottomknocker Fri 25-Nov-11 17:56:18

Did we not do this in the 80s?

YTS anyone?

CalatalieSisters Fri 25-Nov-11 18:10:44

I really wish someone from the Cabinet Office could come on and say why they started this thread and what they plan to do with the information gained from it. No chance, though, I know. Seriously, 25 posts in several hours, what role can the opinions communicated here about policies already determined and set in action have for the Cabinet Office? -- especially since, as posters have said, there are already discussions of these issues elsewhere on the forum.

It is very hard not to see this thread as intended solely to try and generate a bit of positive buzz around a spending announcement that the coalition is clearly desperate to glean some favourable publicity from.

I didn't think that PR was part of the Cabinet Office remit, though. Is there any constitutionally minded wonk who could post clarification about that? I thought they were just charged with coordinating implementation of govt policy.

herbietea Fri 25-Nov-11 18:13:20

Message withdrawn

Chaotica Fri 25-Nov-11 18:23:10

I share the worries of posters further up. The figures of unemployed helped look like a drop in the ocean (given much of it is meaningless 8 week work experience courses) and it's not clear where the money is coming from.

I know of small firms who want to take on apprentices, but can't because there is no security for them. It is a good idea to get people into work, but only if they are paid the going rate.

adamschic Fri 25-Nov-11 19:24:03

So for all the doubters, what would you do, here and now to give young people an incentive to get out of bed instead of drawing benefits?

I don't think it will take real jobs off people (although I haven't read Camerons latest victory on sacking people) maybe it's all linked in. Which was the fear when I did mine. It didn't happen that way and employers saw it as cheap help then realised that they might warrant taking someone on as business picked up, which lets hope it does.

Shakey1500 Fri 25-Nov-11 19:24:34

It's better than nothing. There just doesn't seem to be a big work ethic at present and it may kick start that at least? I'm also an old school YTS-er and it set me on a career path. Yes the pay was low but I got trained, learnt that I had to haul my arse out of bed every morning to earn a wage and learnt how "to be" at work. The first year was a magnificent £16.50 per week, rising to (I think) £27.00 per week the second year. My mum took £10 of that for keep, valuable lesson learnt. I, alongside many of the other YTS-ers, were taken on full time at the end of the scheme. This was, however, during the booming mid 1980's. Not sure if that would be the case in today's climate but, as I said, It's better than nothing, will add to a CV and overhaul the sense of entitlement epidemic.

MmeLindor. Fri 25-Nov-11 19:27:52

1. What is an apprenticeship? Is there any legal groundwork being set on this, or is it just left up to the individual company to decide what they do? I would like the government to stop with half-arsed initiatives and work out a really well grounded apprenticeship system, like they have in Germany. Where people are paid a reasonable amount of money for the 3 year apprenticeship, with day or block release in school, and a good chance of a job at the end of the three years.

2. Eight week placement is not long enough - if a company really want to offer a young person a work placement, then it should be for at least 3 months. I don't see how it helps anyone if the person is just settling down in a job when he is out again.

3. As others have pointed out, is there going to be any protection for the person doing work experience - or will they have to work without breaks, under terrible working conditions in fear that their JS allowance will be cut if they leave early.

adamschic Fri 25-Nov-11 19:37:05

We have an apprentice on a £2.50 (my employers pay more) day release, 1 year scheme and they get the same conditions as all the other employees. The good news is that they should be offered an permanent better paid job at the end of it.

ChristmasBreak Fri 25-Nov-11 19:37:19

This has already been going on for some time under serious names.

The cynic in me feels it creates a revolving door of cheap, disposable labour to lessen the bite of redundancies / make room for more without having to pay those concerned a decent wage or give them any of those pesky employee rights.

We shall see.

Chaotica Fri 25-Nov-11 19:40:08

To the cynical, the 8 week work placement simply serves to get the claimant off the 'long term unemployed' list (not that any of this would be about massaging the figures).

OTOH I would welcome a german-style apprenticeship scheme, and I don't really mind people being made to work if they are paid a decent living wage and have prospects at the end of it.

MmeLindor. Fri 25-Nov-11 19:49:01

This outlines the problems with seeing "apprenticeships" as a quick fix.

The German style apprenticeships are entrenched in the culture. You can barely get a job if you haven't done one (or have a degree).

You cannot work as a plumber/electrician/mechanic unless you have an apprenticeship in these trades. And you cannot employ people in certain trades, ie. open a business unless you are a "Meister" - so have done further vocational training.

This is what makes it successful though, because there is no market for "cheap labour" in many professions.

ChristmasBreak Fri 25-Nov-11 20:00:27

Without giving too much away, my employer recently took on workers from a youth scheme similar to what is being proposed. I believe they got a subsidy for "providing training". The workers weren't paid anything extra than the benefits they usually received because it was classed as a training course.

My sector is one which has been plagued by redundancies, restructure and leaving staff not being replaced for some time and as a result we are quite short staffed.

The youths on the "training scheme" answered phones and booked appointments for the entire time they were with us. This took some of the admin burden off us but did it teach them anything? Probably not.

Did they receive any actual useful training? No. Nobody had time to take out to train them up to do anything useful / learn any new skills and what would have been the point? They were leaving soon.

One woman had a child and struggled hugely with childcare (understandable, she was used to being at home and still getting alternative care established). She wasn't entitled to holidays or even unpaid leave which would have broken the conditions of her contract. My manager had to help her out at her own discretion without informing the coordinator several times.

They all left after their alloted time because guess what? We had no jobs to offer them. They were used to ease some of the pressure caused by redundancy and some staff working alongside them at the time were also under threat of redundancy. After however many weeks/months a shiny new recruit arrived to start the process again.

In an ideal world, this might be an idea. The reality might be more like the above and my employer is not usually an unscrupulous one, this is just the situation.

YULEingFanjo Fri 25-Nov-11 21:11:03

Why does the cabinet office care so much about what Mumsnet thinks about everything? All the time we have these threads. The government would like to know how we feel about benefit scroungers, the government would like to know how to get single parents back in work, the government would like to know what we think of benefits for the disabled, the government would like to know about childcare... on and on and on.


MarriedToTheGrinch Fri 25-Nov-11 21:42:22

Who is going to direct young people onto these programmes?

Most young people are not eligible to claim Job seekers so therefore they don't go anywhere near the job centres, for which I can not blame them for. The young people use the Connexions Centres but due cuts alot of them are closing or have closed already.

Parents and carers - I would say that most parents / carers will see this scheme for exactly what it is and TBH unless travel expenses are paid then most won't be able to afford it.

Youth service - err most youth services have been cut or gone altogether, and TBF the youth workers do not have the knowledge of appreniceships and employment opportunities anyway.

Oh and who is going to make sure that they are on the right course? They need impartial guidance for this from qualified professionals. It will be a complete waste of tax payers money if a young person starts on a course and then leaves because the job isn't what they thought it was - how is this helping employers? If they do make a mistake, will they be able to swap onto another programme with a different employer? If not, then impartial guidance is essential.

If you want some constructive advice - Make the Connexions / new all age careers service responsible for the delivery of this - they will give impartial advice, ensure it matches up with career choices, they already have alot of the expertise required in place from running ESF projects.

swallowedAfly Fri 25-Nov-11 21:57:16

"earn or learn" is a huge insult to the 18-24yr olds who would love to be learning but have been priced and scared out of the HE market. what a cheek!

this whole rhetoric of pretending everyone on benefits is lazy and could all go and work tomorrow whilst ignoring the lack of jobs, childcare, care support and the fact that many of these so called 'lazy' people are ill and could not cope with work even if an employer was foolish enough to take on someone unfit for work is sickening.

now we're pretending that all young unemployed people need to be told 'earn or learn' whilst simultaneously pulling up the drawbridge to higher education for most of them?


go get your PR spin on how to make this done deal sound good elsewhere.

MrsChristmasDB Fri 25-Nov-11 22:02:46

Apparently Nick is in a bit of trouble.

Instead of going round tv and radio stations, he was supposed to announce this in Parliament first, in a written ministerial statement.

Speaker John Bercow said the duty to make announcements was "an obligation upon all ministers, without exception".

Allegedly there is a written statement but no-one has seen it.

Doesn't it just fill you with hope ? grin

swallowedAfly Fri 25-Nov-11 22:08:53

i think very few people realise the difference between announcing something with grand soundbites on tv and it actually happening and how rarely one seems to lead to the other.

i've worked in education and health and it's amazing how little understanding of infrastructure, expertise, time, resources etc politicians seem to have whilst making huge decisions about what the next big scheme is and parading on television and throwing money at ill thought out things.

i don't know what the alternative is - wish there was a way of experts who had to prove a degree of objectivity running things instead of letting vote grabbers and pr spinners and unqualified fools trample all over the shop.

carernotasaint Fri 25-Nov-11 22:14:57

adamschic three months is too long. Its exploitative. I did New Deal in 2000 which involved three months work placement. One month in a charity shop and two months in the local council offices. After that ended there were no jobs available so my provider was going to send me to work for another three months in a soup factory. Umm no you are not i thought. I secured a job in the sex industry and signed off. This was early 2001. i was 27.

carernotasaint Fri 25-Nov-11 22:16:28

I should add that the soup factory was yet another placement where i would only have been getting my JSA. It was NOT a waged job.

carernotasaint Fri 25-Nov-11 22:21:57

Shakey 500 the ones with a sense of entitlement are Tesco.Poundland Matalan and their ilk who have been getting freebie workers for a few years now. And then these retailers have the absolute bloody cheek to sell FAIR TRADE goods so that the people who produce these goods get a fair days pay for a fair days work. I have nothing against this but you should also practice what you preach in your own backyard,otherwise its just blatent hypocrisy.

adamschic Fri 25-Nov-11 22:24:19

It's aimed at 18-25 year olds not the 16-19 year olds who cannot claim JSA. Not forgetting that they abolished EMA which helped 16-19 year olds stay in 'learn'.

Doesn't surprise me tbh that they have hastily announced this due to the realisation of how many young people are now NEETS, it's not going to get any better from next year either due to tuition fee rises.

Agree it should be longer. I understand why people are cynical about this but hope that some good comes out of it and it gets some young people into jobs.

Tbh, I'm fed up with being suspicious and feeling hopeless about what is happening atm, especially to our young people that I'm trying to be optimistic.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 26-Nov-11 07:47:01

A lot are talking about an 'eight week placement' but that was the previous system and it was recognised as being far too short to be any use to either employee or employer. This new scheme, as reported, is to take people on for six months.

purepurple Sat 26-Nov-11 08:33:13

I think it is a very badly thought out plan and fundamently flawed. It's main purpose seems to be to get the jobless figures down.
If companies are going to receive money to employ a young unemployed person for a period of 8 weeks or whatever it will be, what's to stop them just getting rid of that person and taking on a new one?
Which is what happens now, under apprenticeship schemes and the other work placement schemes.
Where are these jobs going to come from? If the jobs were there then there wouldn't be so many young unemployed.
The whole idea is manipulative, patronising, and too much of a token gesture.
Do the government really think we are that stupid, that we can't see through the smoke screen?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 26-Nov-11 08:51:49

"what's to stop them just getting rid of that person and taking on a new one?"

The start-up costs of taking on a new staff member go beyond their wages. They are not immediately productive and they require a lot of training. These two reasons are why employers are reluctant to take on young people in the first place. After six months, faced with the choice of a fully-trained, productive employee that is going to cost slightly more, or starting from scratch with a cheaper but clueless new recruit most companies would prefer the former.

AmberLeaf Sat 26-Nov-11 09:08:32

So because they wanted to save money they cut funding for the Connexions service which helped and supported these young people in making education/job choices that would lead to an actual paid job....and now they want to spend £1 bn on a scheme that sounds very much like the workfare one discussed on the thread linked on pg 1.

I agree that it is better to be doing something rather than nothing especially for that age group, but will taking part in this scheme lead to a real paid job?

It looks to me that it is more about making unemployed people work for their benefits, in which case they should be honest about it and not present it as something that is 'providing hope' what hope is there if there will be no job at the end of it? yes having the experience of the work placement is something to put on a CV, but why would an employer take a young person on in a paid post if there is a constant stream of free labour? the employers will even be paid for using this free labour!

250,000 young people will be offered work experience placements lasting up to eight weeks. These will be available to every unemployed 18-to 24-year-old who wants one and has been seeking work for three months or more

Does that mean it is not compulsory?

anyone who drops out of a work experience placement or subsidised job will lose their benefits

I hope that the people doing these placements will have the same rights to breaks and H&S standards as a paid employee given that the above indicates that once on the scheme they have to complete the full time or face being penniless. Having read the workfare thread I have doubts about that TBH.

I dont like the idea of allowing and actually paying huge companies to fill job positions at no cost to them when those positions could and should be filled by a properly paid employee, I think this is the main factor that really doesnt sit right with me.

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