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Government to launch work academies

The Government is launching work academies offering training and a guaranteed job interview for up to 50,000 young people ahead of new figures set to show another rise in youth unemployment.

Some commentators believe the number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work will top the one million mark when official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is released on Wednesday. There were 973,000 unemployed people in the age group last month, a jobless rate of over 20%, sparking calls from unions and campaign groups for Government action.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said that coupled with the Work Programme and the Work Experience scheme, the new work academies will support up to 150,000 young people over the next few months and 250,000 over the next two years.

Industries covered by the work academies include construction, hospitality, logistics, retail and contact centres, where the Government said there were tens of thousands of job vacancies.

Mr Grayling said: "Sector-based work academies are the next key part of our strategy to tackle youth unemployment. With training, work experience and a guaranteed interview, they will put people at the front of the queue for vacancies that employers are looking to fill."

The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) Commission on Youth Unemployment, chaired by Labour MP David Miliband, said: "Youth unemployment scars people for life, particularly if it is prolonged, and at today's levels it will be costing the country millions of pounds a week.

"Our aim is to understand the problems we face, arrive at the right solutions, and then act. We must not let the scourge of unemployment leave a permanent mark on the hundreds of thousands of young people living through it today."

Howard Archer, chief UK & European economist at IHS Global Insight, said claimant count unemployment is forecast to have risen by 30,000 in September after rises of 20,300 in August and 33,700 in July, which would be a seventh successive increase and take the number of claimant count unemployed up to a 22-month high of more than 1.6 million.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Now is certainly not the time to be young and looking for work. There is every chance that the Chancellor's austerity measures will be responsible for pushing joblessness amongst those under the age of 24 into the seven-figure bracket."

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), told BBC Breakfast that growth was needed to create jobs: "There just isn't enough demand there and unfortunately Government policy, by cutting public sector jobs, is making the problem worse rather than better," he said.

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