TUC youth wing makes jobs appeal
Calls for guaranteed jobs or training for unemployed youngsters have been made at a conference of young trade-union activists amid rising concern over youth unemployment.
The issue has been top of the agenda at the TUC's young members' conference in London, where delegates discussed the latest unemployment figures, which showed a jobless rate of 22% for 16 to 24-year-olds.
More than a million young people are jobless, which has led to growing calls for action to tackle the crisis. The conference has heard complaints that temporary contracts for young people were being "over-used" while there were limited opportunities for work.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Now is certainly not the time to be young and looking for a job, with figures showing more than one million people under 24 around the UK are unable to find work.
"The TUC's young members are rightly concerned about the future of their generation. With a strong recovery still failing to take hold, the bleak prospects facing young jobseekers will be with us for some considerable time to come.
"With the toxic combination of increasing unemployment, high tuition fees and inadequate Government support for those out of work, our unemployed young people are being given no option but to join the back of the dole queue."
Fern McCaffrey, chairman of the TUC young members' forum, said: "With youth unemployment now hitting a million, the Government's decision to axe the Future Jobs Fund is looking increasingly foolish and ministers' replacement offer of cut-price work experience is woefully inadequate.
"Young people represent our future economic hopes and getting them into work should be the Government's top priority. The Prime Minister should guarantee a job or high-quality training to any young person out of work for six months or more to prevent losing a generation to joblessness and under-achievement."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Tackling youth unemployment is an absolute priority for ministers, which is why we are spending £1 billion over the next three years on the youth contract.
"From April 2, it will create around half a million work experience and training opportunities, including 160,000 wage incentives of up to £2,275 for employers to recruit 18-to-24-year-olds from the work programme."