Our youngest generation continues to be blighted by worklessness with more than half a million people between 16 and 24 in the UK unemployed despite being available for work.
Through the charities we work with across Britain, we know the toll youth unemployment takes on individuals, their families and the communities in which they live.
Today David Cameron took a major step in attempting to rectify the problem by backing our plan for young people who are unemployed for more than six months to undertake community work to qualify for their benefits.
We recommended that young people who were unable to find a job, be placed on a Community Wage scheme which would enable them to gain valuable skills rather than languishing on benefits.
While today’s announcement from the Prime Minister is a crucial step, it does not signal job done.
We must go further to ensure there is a clear route from education to employment.
That is why we have called for early intervention, to ensure that knowledge of the working world is fully integrated into the education system and that pupils learn about the world of work as early as possible.
We have also called for a UCAS style website for non university bound school leavers to apply for jobs or apprenticeships.
We have recommended that Local Enterprise Partnerships, partnerships between local authorities and businesses, should introduce ‘Work Experience Champions’. These individuals would help students, particularly those who are disadvantaged, to find suitable work experience. They would also promote the case for work experience to employers.
For the most disadvantaged students we propose that highly-trained coaches are on hand to provide mentoring and support to overcome the specific issues which increase their likelihood of becoming unemployed.
We know this approach works already. The ThinkForward initiative, which provides coaches to students in parts of London, has successfully reduced levels of youth unemployment – In 2013 95 per cent of those supported by ThinkForward coaches made a successful transition into post-16 education, employment or training.
We have seen the transformative power that the culture of work can bring to young people. Whoever wins the next election will have the responsibility of ensuring today’s young people achieve their potential. This plan is good place to start.