At least 410,000 18- to 24-year-olds will be helped into the workplace through a £1bn fund to tackle youth unemployment, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced.
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Over three years, the Youth Contract will provide wage subsidies to get 160,000 young people into paid work as well as 250,000 new work experience placements.
In addition, there will be at least 20,000 more incentive payments to encourage employers to take on young apprentices.
There will also be a new programme to help the most disengaged 16- and 17-year-olds, to get them back to school or college, onto an apprenticeship or into a job with training.
Those not in work who do not engage with the programme will be made to attend work training with Jobcentre staff.
Anyone who drops out of a work experience placement or a subsidised job will lose their benefits.
Clegg said: “The aim of the Youth Contract is to get every unemployed young person earning or learning again before long-term damage is done.
“This is a £1bn package and what’s different about it is that it gets young people into proper, lasting jobs in the private sector.
“But it’s a contract, a two-way street: if you sign up for the job, they’ll be no signing on for the dole. You have to stick with it.
“Youth unemployment is an economic waste and a slow-burn social disaster. We can’t afford to leave our young men and women on the scrap heap. We need the next generation to help us build a new economy.”
The announcement comes after numbers of 16- to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training (Neet) reached a record high of 1.16m since comparable records began in 2000.