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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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£1m push to help Cumbria’s young into work is welcomed

A Carlisle training firm chief believes young Cumbrians could be lifted out of a life on the dole by a new Government drive.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg this week pledged to deal with the “ticking time bomb” of teenagers who are not in work, school or training – with £1m-worth of backing on its way to Cumbria.

He announced a £126m scheme to get 16 and 17-year-olds back into employment or education.

The initiative is part of the coalition’s Youth Contract scheme, announced in November in a bid to tackle youth unemployment.

And it is one that supporters in Cumbria believe could have an important impact on the county.

System Training runs apprenticeships for a string of firms.

Chief executive Robin Brown said: “We back the Government’s continued investment in young people and the announcement to help even more people into employment and training.

“System Training has long championed the benefits of motivated young people to employers and our apprenticeship programmes are proving more popular.

“The new scheme has the potential to create some significant benefits for local employers and the funding will be a welcome incentive to help employ more unemployed people.

“We’ve seen a huge demand in training programmes for the unemployed and they’re certainly helping to equip people with the skills needed to gain employment.”

Under the new initiative, charities and businesses will be invited to bid for contracts worth up to £2,200 to take young people on.

“They will receive a payment up front, and more money when the youngsters show progress.

At least 55,000 16 and 17-year-old ‘Neets’ – not in education, employment or training – who have no GCSEs at grades C or above, are expected to benefit.

In Cumbria this time last year, there were 9,000 young people without jobs, education or training. Youth unemployment has previously been flagged as a significant issue for the county.

As part of the new initiative, Cumbria County Council will received just over £1m – an injection welcomed by South Lakes MP Tim Farron, Mr Clegg’s Liberal Democrat party president.

Mr Clegg said: “Sitting at home with nothing to do when you’re so young can knock the stuffing out of you for years. It is a tragedy for the young people involved – a ticking time bomb for the economy and our society as a whole.

“We urgently need to step up efforts to ensure some of our most troubled teenagers have the skills, confidence and opportunities to succeed.”

This group of teenagers has been singled out because evidence suggests that unemployment early on can have a permanent effect.

By the age of 42, someone who has been frequently unemployed as a teenager is likely to earn between 12 and 15 per cent less than their peers, according to the Department for Education.

The CBI said it was good news the Government had responded to business pressure to ensure 16 to 17-year-olds were included when the Youth Contract launches in April.

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