Ending FJF Could Lead to Long-Term Unemployment
Yesterday the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report on Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund made 23 recommendations relating to the government’s plan to finish the scheme early.
The key findings of the Committee were as follows:
- Despite falling behind its initial target, the Future Jobs Fund (FJF) created a significant number of temporary jobs for unemployed young people on a national scale.
- Programmes such as the FJF may still be a cost-effective option for young unemployed people who are furthest from the labour market, and who are less likely to benefit from other less intensive approaches.
- Referrals to the Future Jobs Fund will cease by March 2011, and the final participants are expected to finish their FJF posts by September 2011. In future, young people at risk of long-term unemployment will be referred to the Work Programme. However, this programme will not launch fully until June 2011. The Committee expressed concern about the resulting potential gap in provision for unemployed young people and wishes to see effective transitional arrangements put in place, especially in those areas of the country where the Work Programme will not be fully operational from June 2011.
- The Committee was concerned that apprenticeships may not be the most suitable route into employment for those young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment. These young people may have left school with no qualifications, have no experience of work, or have difficult family circumstances, and in some cases they may not be ready to start an apprenticeship. Lessons should be learned from the FJF in terms of identifying the most effective ways to prepare such individuals for apprenticeships
- The Work Programme should also include mechanisms to ensure that providers build on the experience and skills of the local partnerships that delivered the FJF programme, as well as drawing on the experience of smaller local and specialised providers.
The panel of MPs acknowledged that “periods of unemployment are detrimental to young people’s future prospects and that the longer the period out of work, the more serious the damage to their job prospects.”
Given the recent increase in unemployment of 35,000 in the three months to October to 2.5m, it is essential that addressing youth unemployment is given appropriate prominence within the Government’s welfare-to-work policies. In the face of recent student unrest it would certainly be helpful if the government were seen to be providing the support into employment that some young people need, and to prevent the long term scarring effects that could result from this prolonged period of unemployment. Ensuring that there are robust provisions to address youth unemployment within the Single Work Programme would go some way to addressing this issue.
You can view New Deal of the Mind’s written submission to this Select Committee here.