Employers are reluctant to take on young people unless they have had some work experience. Currently, gaining work experience beyond two weeks can result in loss of benefit. Under the new scheme there will be no loss of benefit for the first eight weeks.
According to the latest official figures released last week unemployment has risen dramatically, particularly among young people. The total number of people under 25 who are out of work increased by 32,000 to 951,000 in the three months to November – at 20.3% the highest unemployment rate for 20 years. Among those aged 16 to 17 total numbers rose by 27,000 in the same period.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows employers are reluctant to hire from groups where they feel basic job skills, experience and reliability are lacking. The Institute believes that work experience is a perfect way to break the vicious circle of no experience/no job, and give young people an opportunity to develop and demonstrate the skills and commitment employers need.
This extended period of work experience will allow young people to get a proper stint in a business, gaining valuable experience, getting a decent entry on their CV and providing real value to the employer.
The new initiative covers young people between 18 and 21. They will be matched by Jobcentre Plus with employers looking for people to do work experience. From now on specialist staff in Jobcentre Plus will work with businesses across the country to seek out the best work experience opportunities.
Work experience is getting the backing of some of Britain’s leading employers such as Homebase, Hilton Hotels, McDonalds, ISS Facilities Management, Chums, De Vere Hotels, Carillion, Coyle Personnel and Punch Taverns, and business leaders such as David Frost of the British Chambers of Commerce.
The Forum of Private Business has cautiously welcomed the initiative, but it has warned that more needs to be done to review the quality of training they receive and free apprenticeships and work placements from red tape. The Forum’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford called for a ‘holistic’ approach to tackling youth unemployment.