Boost for cities trying to tackle youth unemployment

Government efforts to get young people into jobs that last have received a boost after Nick Clegg announced extra cash for new local policies.

Youth unemployment is a major issue across England, particularly in more populous areas, which is why the Deputy Prime Minister had decided to enhance the Youth Contract.

Launched in April 2012, the 1 billion flagship programme works with core cities across the country to take the problem at a local level.

The aim is to provide nearly half-a-million new opportunities for 18-24 year olds, including apprenticeships and voluntary work experience placements.

But now, thanks to the announcement, England's eight largest cities will now be able to bid for a share of an additional 50 million to help young people into work

They will be able to design their own schemes to target local young employed people and help them into local businesses.

It is hoped that these new local policies, combined with the Wage Incentive scheme, will help cities boost youth employment in their area.

Wage Incentives are worth up to 2,275 each to an employer when they take on an eligible 18 to 24 year old through Jobcentre Plus or from the Work Programme.

"Youth unemployment has been a problem for a long time in this country, which is why I started the Youth Contract," said Mr Clegg.

"We clearly have more work to do, but I am not going to turn my back on the young unemployed just because this is proving to be difficult. The Wage Incentive is a key part of the Youth Contract to help young people into work and enable businesses to take on staff so that they can grow."

Leeds, which is one of the eight core cities, agreed a 'Guarantee for the Young' with innovative new ways to give every young person access to a job, training, apprenticeship, volunteering or work experience.

Manchester, meanwhile, set up an 'Apprenticeship Hub' to boost apprenticeship numbers by supporting small and medium sized businesses and Sheffield took control of its skills budget.

Wage incentives, work experience, sector-based work academies, apprenticeship wage incentives, and apprenticeships are all key initiatives of the Youth Contract.

There is also additional support on offer for young people aged 16 to 17 who are not in education, employment or training.

Copyright Press Association 2013