Young unemployed face real challenge, admits Grayling

Chris Grayling
Image caption Chris Grayling admits that youth unemployment is a "very real challenge"

Unemployed young people face a "very real challenge", Employment Minister Chris Grayling has admitted.

But he said he was determined to get them into work as soon as possible and promised the government would not leave them "sitting there indefinitely".

His comments to the BBC come a day after figures showed a record 1.027 million 16 to 24 year olds were unemployed.

Labour called for more action to bridge the gap between education and work.

Chris Grayling's comments came before the government announced further measures aimed at reducing youth unemployment.

Under its plans, £4.5 million will be given to colleges in areas of especially high youth unemployment to set up around 250,000 extra work experience placements.

Mr Grayling stressed the importance of such measures, stating that "we are seeing something like half of the young people who go into work experience placements getting into work afterwards".

The new plan brings together many elements of the government strategy which was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg last month.

The strategy aims to put into effect many of the recommendations made by the recent Wolf report on youth unemployment.

It targets improving basic skills by combining work experience with ongoing English and maths lessons to form new vocational courses.

'Grand plans'

Mr Grayling said: "We appreciate that in hard economic times employers will often choose employees with proven work experience. We want to put young people on the front foot, giving them the help and support they need to find and keep employment."

He added: "We are committed to securing the future of our young people by building on this with extra access and by incentivising employers to take on young people through the Work Programme."

Last month, charities and businesses were offered around £150 million to improve the numbers returning to education or finding an apprenticeship or job.

The government also promised small businesses up to £2,275 in incentive payments to take on young people.

But shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg criticised the strategy.

He said: "Grand plans are all very well, but they will be of little comfort to the million young people out of work and unable to find a job. We have to do far more to bridge the gap between education and the world of work.

"I urge the government to bring forward investment in infrastructure like school buildings which would have the added benefit of creating new jobs in industries like construction."

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