Employment: Young People

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Conservative, Walsall North

What recent steps the Government have taken to help young people into employment.

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle

What recent steps the Government have taken to help young people into employment.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

This Government are committed to providing targeted support for all our young people, to give them the best chance of getting into work. That includes the youth obligation support programme, Jobcentre Plus support for schools, and the recently introduced mentoring circles.

Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Conservative, Walsall North

I thank the Minister for that answer. I welcome the Government funding given to Go Train, which provides recruitment and training services to businesses at no cost to business. Will she visit Walsall North in November, when a course will be provided specific to the Birchills area of my constituency?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I was recently nearby, at one of our universal credit service centres, with my hon. Friend It was absolutely clear that opportunities for young people in his constituency and the surrounding area are vital. The Department for Work and Pensions is working with the West Midlands Combined Authority to bring together local skills, employment support and Jobcentre Plus services. We are investing £1.2 million in the west midlands for extra resources, including helping young people to tackle the biggest hurdles to finding employment.

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Speaking of young people, they will welcome the decision to grant the living wage to people aged 21 to 25 at £10.50 an hour, but are the Government satisfied that there will not be any impact on young people and their job opportunities as a result of their being paid the same rate as those who have more experience in the workplace?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement to bring more people, including younger people, into the scope of the national living wage over the next five years. Employers will continue to select the best person for the job, based on multiple factors. Like me, they will take confidence from the fact that young people will have a chance to take advantage of the support offered to make sure that they are ready to meet those challenges and be the best person for the job. So local labour markets will still be strong.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

When are we going to see a glimmer of passion from this Front Bench about young people who do not have any employment opportunities? Has the Minister looked at the report from the Children’s Commissioner that showed that 20% of kids come out of schools at this time with no qualifications? A lot of them are already on the skills journey in further education colleges, waiting to get an apprenticeship. What is she going to do about it?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Wonderful passion—that is very much appreciated. And I make no apology for bringing passion to this new role when it comes to youth unemployment. In fact, I explicitly asked the Secretary of State that I could continue with my focus on young people in this role. Please do not forget that youth unemployment has almost halved since 2010 under this Government.

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Privileges

The Minister may be aware of the talent match programme that was run in Greater Manchester in order to reach young people not in education, employment or training. We have learnt a great deal about how to ally industrial education and skills, and employment strategies, for that group as a result of that programme. Will the Minister look at devolving some of the initiatives that she has described to Greater Manchester, along with providing funding, so that we can do more to work at a sub-regional and city-regional level to support our young people effectively into employment?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Place-based support and understanding is really important in devolving down and making changes on the ground. There is a great opportunity in the coming changes to the European social fund, in the shared prosperity fund and in the ability to work with local enterprise partnerships and local mayors, because young people may have fantastic employers around them, but never know that those opportunities exist.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Independent, Romsey and Southampton North

I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments about the national living wage and young people. On what evidence has she based the decision not to extend that down to 18, or is she perhaps considering providing the national living wage to those who are younger but still able to provide a great deal to employers in the workplace?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

My right hon. Friend knows that, if it were up to me, I would love to extend the national living wage down to 18, but sadly this is down to the Treasury; I will question the relevant Ministers accordingly.

Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Employment)

Well-paid, secure work is a good route out of poverty, yet far too many young people—11%—are not in education, employment and training under this Government; or they are in low-paid jobs and on zero-hours contracts. Will the Minister press the Chancellor to set the national living wage at the same rate for all young people in work, as Labour has committed to do—£10 an hour in 2020?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Everybody in this Chamber speaking up for our young people do all our communities a great service. We need a mixture of chances and opportunities for young people, including through mentoring. I am particularly interested in the work that we do with schools around engagement with jobcentres. [Interruption.] It is not all about money; it is also about skills and opportunities. I hear the hon. Gentleman, as do many colleagues, and I hope the Treasury will too.