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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:57 pm on 20th March 2014.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 1:57 pm, 20th March 2014

Yes, I will address the issue of youth unemployment and the hon. Gentleman is right to raise it. This is an issue that has, of course, been with us for many years, including under the previous Government when economic conditions were much more benign. Youth unemployment is currently at about 20%, but of course that includes many full-time students. The key trend is that youth unemployment is now declining rapidly. It is certainly less now than the level we inherited, and we have a whole set of policies designed to deal with it in a systematic way.

The shadow Chancellor put forward the idea of a youth guarantee. The problem that that presents is this: how can a job be guaranteed other than through the public sector? Of course guaranteeing a public sector job takes people off the dole, but it also creates a permanent need for subsidy and support. What we have done is create a route that allows people who are not going into full-time higher education to develop the preconditions for proper apprenticeships through traineeships, basic academic requirements and work experience, and then find their way into true apprenticeship training, which has been an enormous success: it has doubled since we came to office. The measures announced in the Budget statement yesterday will enable a further 100,000 people under 24 to be given apprenticeship training, and the quality improvements that we have made are driving up demand and supply at the same time. This is a much better way of dealing with young people who are out of work than creating artificial jobs.