Mark Hoban, employment minister, hails Max Kirby's "thoughtful and optimistic" essay and explains what the Government is doing to curb youth unemployment.
More than 650 people entered the HJI-Reed essay prize, which just shows what a fundamentally important issue youth unemployment is. I would like to congratulate Max Kirby on his winning entry a thoughtful and optimistic piece based on first-hand experience.
As employment minister, getting people into work, especially young people, is my priority. Having people in work is good for the individual, their families, and for the economy.
Recent employment figures have been encouraging. UK unemployment has fallen below 2.5m and the number of people in work has now been rising for over a year. For young people there are also positive signs more 16 to 24-year-olds are getting jobs, and the number who are out of work for over 12 months is falling.
But even with all of this good news, there is still a lot to do youth unemployment remains too high. We must do all we can to ensure young people have every opportunity to get a job. If we don’t, the UK misses out on untapped talent.
Our young people are talented, hard-working, ambitious, and, above all, they have great potential. They just need to be given the opportunity to put that potential to good use.
That is why we introduced the £1bn Youth Contract, which hugely increases the amount of work experience and apprentice opportunities available for young people. This provides a vital opportunity for young people to learn new skills and show potential employers what they are capable of.
It is also very important that we don’t allow young people who are out of work to fall into long-term unemployment, which is why we introduced the Work Programme to give people the individualised support they need. Young people get help from the Work Programme earlier, with private providers and voluntary organisations given more money when they help a young person get and stay in a job.
But all this will only be successful if we continue to help businesses create the jobs that young people need. Only by creating the right economic conditions can we encourage businesses to grow and take on more young people. With more than 1m private sector jobs created since 2010, it is a credit to businesses that they have continued to create jobs even in tough times.
Because we know times are difficult for businesses, we are offering cash payments of up to £2,275 to employers to recruit young people who are on benefits.
As a Government, we need to show employers that taking on young people will be good for their business and that through things like our work experience and apprenticeship schemes we are creating a generation that is eager, skilled, and better prepared for the world of work. There is a huge amount of potential out there, so I would like to appeal to businesses, big and small, to make use of the money available and give a young person a chance to show you what they can do.
As Max says in his winning entry: “the world is bursting with opportunity”. I couldn’t agree more, but as he also points out: it is up to all of us teachers, parents, business leaders and policymakers to ensure our young people are fully equipped to make the most of these opportunities. Only then will our young people be able to compete fully in the global race, and in doing so, inspire future generations.
Read all three essays in full online at telegraph.co.uk/essay
Mark Hoban is employment minister and attended the HJI-Reed prize giving ceremony this week.