27 February 2012

Boris: Support apprenticeships to help unemployed back to work

Boris Johnson has today defended businesses that offer the young a chance of real work, saying they should be praised, not vilified:

We have more and more young people out of work, and who find themselves caught in a catch-22. They are told they can’t get a job unless they have some work experience; and they can’t get any work experience unless someone is willing to give them a job.

The Coalition has come up with a scheme to help them into places of work, and to give them at least some of the confidence and the credentials they crave. Instead of just drawing benefits and sitting at home, waiting for their luck to change, they are given the option – the option – of getting some practical understanding of what it is like to be an employee. Since January last year about 34,000 people aged 16-24 have been given their Jobseeker’s Allowance and travel costs while doing work experience in a huge range of businesses. They are not forced to do it, and they can pull out of it within a week if they don’t like it – with no loss of benefits.

The Mayor also makes the point that we need to do more to get people off benefits and into work.

In London, Boris is on track to meet his ambitious goal of delivering 100,000 apprenticeships by the end of this year.

The capital’s jobs market is more competitive than ever - particularly for young people who can find it tough to secure even entry-level positions. Apprenticeship and graduate trainee schemes can help drive down youth unemployment by giving young people the opportunities to develop the skills they need to enter the jobs market.

As Boris concludes: "These schemes are working, because business can see clear benefits from hiring apprentices. They are typically loyal and hard-working, and all the evidence is that firms that hire apprentices are more productive.

"It doesn’t matter where you start. It just matters where you are going, and you can’t get going unless you are given a start."

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