21,000 young people at risk of long term unemployment offered jobs thanks to Government wage incentive scheme

More than 20,000 youngsters have been offered jobs thanks to a Government wage incentive scheme.

Ministers have claimed the initiative, part of the Youth Contract that was launched in 2012, has seen 21,000 18 to 24-year-olds who were at risk of long term unemployment offered employment.

Under the incentive, businesses are offered up to 2,275 for taking on a youngster who had been out of work for at least six months. So far it has been paid out for around 4,700 young people.

The take up of the offer was slow when it was first launched, but the Department for Work and Pensions said take-up was now on a "clear upwards trajectory".

There were more than 21,000 job commitments - taking on a young person and requesting a wage incentive claim form - made by businesses due to the wage incentive between June 2012 and May 2013. The wage incentives are paid out after the young person has been in employment for six months.

Other elements of the Youth Contract have seen tens of thousands of young people benefit. These include work experience places, apprenticeships and mentoring and extra support for the hardest to help 16 and 17 year olds.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: "Youth unemployment has fallen by 59,000 since the Youth Contract was launched and tens of thousands of people have benefited from work experience, apprenticeships or the wage incentive.

"Through the different elements of the Youth Contract, this Government is delivering on our commitment to offer young people the best chance to get on in life, but we're not complacent about the scale of the challenge still facing us."

Mike Cherry, National Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Federation of Small Business research found that a wage subsidy is the single most important thing the government can do get small firms to take on more employees, and therefore welcomes the initiative.

"Small businesses are committed to employing young people where possible and wage incentives can make a difference. More can always be done to make small businesses aware of the support that is available to them, and the FSB will play its part in doing so."

Copyright Press Association 2013