We have argued consistently that the current situation on co-ordination of youth unemployment policy – where the responsibility for devising policies to tackle youth unemployment rests on at least three Government departments – is unwise and that this lack of co-ordination is hampering efforts to tackle youth unemployment.
Last week there was a perfect example of this. The Government last year announced the creation of a Traineeships programme to help young people gain more work experience as well as to improve their English and Maths and other skills.
However, the Traineeships programme has not got off to the start it should have done. This is because of a rule which prevents unemployed people from claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) if they take on study or work experience for more than 16 hours a week. According to FE Week, a number of organisations including the Association of Employment and Learning Providers are warning that the continuation of this rule is affecting the success of the traineeships programme. Although the Government has promised to bring in an exemption to this rule for Traineeships, the exemption has not yet been implemented and there is confusion over the situation and who is running what.
We have to ask this: Can anyone seriously imagine that the same situation would be occurring if responsibility for Traineeships and for benefits for unemployed young people were both handled by the same Government Minister or at least by some sort of cross-government unit or agency?
What is worse is that this is not some minor administrative issue. Traineeships were heralded as a key Government policy to tackle youth unemployment – and when traineeship providers say that these issues are putting employers off engaging with the programme and are leading to a lower takeup of the scheme than expected, it is clear that the lack of co-ordination of youth unemployment policy is hurting, not helping, the fight to tackle youth unemployment.